Charnock – Making Jelly

It was a short bike ride
to a run-down fruit stand along the tracks.
Each day I watched for jars of quince jelly
to appear on the counter,
pale gold refracting light aimlessly.
Cradling a tin-capped glass, I rode back to my wheezing house,
stark grey clapboard, the chipped wooden table.
I hoarded my little jar — the whole season had a lifespan
of two weeks, maybe three in a good year.
The jelly’s perfume would unfold in the hollow of my mouth
tissue thin, its spider scrawl
like an aged letter protesting love.
I wanted the life that jelly conjured:
arcane kitchen craft, white dresses, honeysuckle.
It’s this ephemeral memory that still holds
all ten bridges, the Willamette River’s current,
Sauvie Island’s stillness, every jeweled garden
and the night lights from Mt. Tabor,
all my Portland years in a spoon
tipped over onto my waiting tongue.