Four and Twenty Blackbirds: Resurrection Pie

By Jane Character

Curse the invisibility of piemakers,
they're obscured by modest aprons, tarty
bakery cases and the grandmotherly virtue
of being dead. Raise the dead

and gather fruit, huckleberries this mad July,
raspberries red as a pinch and the perilous
rhubarb. Which was Grandmother's best
(latticework apple? short-crust strawberry?)

is arguable and people will argue it
down three generations. Beyond that,
the recollection of the beloved
piemaker's crust withdraws like Sunday and someday

no one will die
who had ever eaten Grandmother's homemade pie.
Won't that be the end of the world
despite nephews and nieces in shoes?

You're a vote for the blueberry,
for the ghoulish teeth grinning in heads
tooth-picked round the table
while Grandmother rises with the moon's fidelity,

and standing behind your chair only
pats down the place where her dusty apron was
and your towhead is, then palms your chicken-wing shoulder. You quit

growing then and there
just to become the photograph
of a good old time never taken. That's affection
enough for you Norwegians in New Glarus, Wisconsin.

Now is since then.
You've ridden so many Greyhounds
head in hands, a lap full of pity and salty chips.
How beautiful can America be

when all those states get in the way,
when you've buried everyone so far and wide
they may as well be aliases or billboards
in the middle of nowhere where someone is

doing dishes, smoking out back, hanging sheets
and dungarees. Yet out the bus window
here in the prairie, she appears,
your grandmother in that grandmother dress

happy beyond terrestrial belief to see you.
Wave stiffly back through the glass. She sees you
of course, and is pleasured as a nun entering
her Jesus marriage. She calls out dinnertime

news: My gooseberry girl,
I've got something for you
in the oven. why won't you come? You wish you could
be a good girl, help by Criscoing the pie plates

upset the hourglass.
But this is no fruit pie, no mincemeat number,
no kiwi tartlet Grandmother has prepared.
It's no fatso Gretel either.

Sink your teeth into it like a bun, sweet or burgered.
Draw blood if that's how it must be.
This warm and compliant pie, I offer it
as an invocation of farm summer days

when you could stand under the streetlight
listening to its electrical sputter
as if it were the stars whispering love
in your ear. It's raspberry, from a country

stand in Amagansett—I don't bake but make
Grandmothers appear to women crimson like you.
With vicious lipstick you snarl as you've seen your parents do, spit
the sarcasm of television marriages, resent the cat.

But when I fill your willing mouth it changes everything
like plague and redemption, when I open the oven of dreams in our bed
your body will be comforted
as it scratches in dirt for more sugar memory.

Downtown, professional bakers work dough by moonlight,
hour of the clawed animal, the murmur in the wall.
This is the-bequest of the deceased, that there be confection
for the haunted to choke back, resurrection pie.
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