Grandma Drinks Beet Juice Against Her Will
There is dirt in plastic baggies waiting on the kitchen counter
like first picked local heroine to be pushed down in the garden.
A small woman who owns an eggplant purple car cannot keep anything
she is given: her nephew needs it, her daughter asks, she would rather have cash.
She always wears an apron; the first time her husband hit her she wore a pink one
with a sewed heart against the stomach for a pocket where she kept her corked bottle
of cinnamon or forehead rag to hold back her hair.
This apron was one of her good ones with pastel picnic plaid running down the sides
and it tied with satin, not string. She still keeps the receipt for it in one of the metal cookie tins
pushed back in the pantry piled with other outdated sales. I saw it once,
dated to 1962 and priced at $14.99. That was a lot for a woman who did not know what
Woodstock was or who might of needed to return the soft smock later to buy her husband beer.
The dirt gets pushed down in the corners of her eye’s when she is out in the sun
taking care of his vegetation, with creaks in her backbone and fingertips that smell
like cucumbers–not the store bought kind that advertise them as clean, cool, spa-material
packaged in white containers meant to reduce redness. This is the real cucumber scent
that sends your nose scrunching like an old attic melting down into the walls of a house
or the sting of untouchable skin after a slap across the cheek. This garden is not her garden.
The tomato veins wrap around her ankles like strong hands keeping on her a mattress,
the harsh grip that you can’t get the stain out of.
Her husband can see her on her knees making dents in the ground, surrounded by baskets and
dirt. His spine tingles over her knuckles wrapped around the sweet peppers and squash and
spinach. There is no swamp cabbage good enough for him to sweat over.
He will not pick vegetables, but he will break mason jars full of menstrual red, thick blood clots,
slit-wrist gush, and let it start a red paint war all on his face–licks it off his calloused fingers,
smiles the way white men do when they taste something sweet, while Grandma hopes he is kind
enough to let the beet juice drip into her mouth.
Breia-Claire Gore is an Asian-American poet living in South Carolina, where she is pursuing her BA in English concentrated in Creative Writing with distinction. Gore is a staff writer for Lithium Magazine, content creator for Adolescent Content, and assistant-editor of her college’s newspaper, The Conversationalist. When she isn’t stumbling over rough drafts or pointing out small animals on walks, she can be found drinking tea, being politically-active, and organizing her pens.