“Disposal” by Karen Skolfield


The things we once loved,
the cracked and tarnished,
the black pumps with the broken heel,
cane chair unraveled, nicked Mason jars.
Trash must be double-bagged
though the sign doesn’t say why.
The half-lives of plastic. We recycle,
we have a compost bin loved by bears.
We have a way of letting things go.


The note said that my pea seeds
are infected with pea weevils, many
apologies, here’s a refund, be sure
to incinerate the seeds. So the seeds sit
now in my freezer, under the assumption
that weevils need a little warmth
to hatch. They’re next to a big hunk
of meat and every time I open the freezer
I startle, like the time my daughter
froze her toys, the eyes
of a baby doll staring, rime-rimmed.
I’m not sure how to incinerate hard peas,
if I can boil them, if a small fire will do,
if I must clear the driveway and start
a bonfire, let it rage and rage, the pea seeds
warming in my hands, in my too-warm hands.


Home canning: Vegetables that
have spoiled must be disposed of
so that no animal or person can touch it.
Not just eat it, but touch it,
because sometimes the bacteria
have all the power, our bodies
giant fortresses with the drawbridge
down, the windows flung wide,
the guards asleep or almost asleep.


If bears can smell three miles
how deep must the disposal hole be?
I would dig until my shoulders ached,
until the muscles popped, the sweat rose
along the seams, the skin crackled;
I would dig to bedrock, to the water beneath,
to the fossil layer, the imprints of ferns,
I would devote my life, pass through
the colored bands, the place where oil
is made, until the ground grew warm
and when I looked up, the top of the hole
would look like a distant, futile star.

More poetry at Used Furniture.

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