Elizabeth Oxley

My Aunt Posts Food Pictures on Instagram

Homemade gazpacho, jade basil, 
bowl of rosy figs. I thought of her today 
when I bought French yogurt 

in demure plastic cups, deciding 
this must be how Parisians stay thin. 
You can have too much of a good thing, 

like Colorado sunshine that sucks the forest dry. 
Wildfires up north pack my backyard 
with ash. I don’t know what possessed me 

to move this far west. I come from a line 
of eastern women—Unami maiden on one side, 
seventeenth-century Salem witch on the other 

(she was that devastating force, a woman 
who spoke her mind). I wish I’d been there,
listening as she told her accusers, come forward,

while deep in New England woods, light 
stuttered among foxglove and hemlock 
before granting darkness the decisive win. 

I was born afflicted with hesitation. 
Not my aunt, who’s always planted herself 
with the underdog and freak, which is to say 

with me, in days of my divorce, when depression
strained my seams. She muddled mint for mojitos,  
let me cry it out beneath her guest bedroom duvet.

It’s twenty-twenty now, year of zeros, the world 
starved for beauty. I scroll through her feed: 
peppers roasted, rich saffron stew. Her kitchen 

is morgue and resurrectory. On her table, 
orange begonias. Hair tied back, my aunt 
casts the pinch of pink and crucial salt.