Winter had come to Nicosia
and as the last daylight went
braziers flared on the sidewalk.
In some language of Crimea
—or Medea—the men’s heads bent
toward an ancient clock.
Was it a dream? I ate potatoes
“fluffy as a buttered cloud,”
and sensed the red earth as “read,”
like Aphrodite’s lips in the throes
of love: she mouthed aloud
the tale of grave Adonis’s bed.
Earth-apples, so-called, gather
the soil’s nutriment into flesh
pale as moon rocks. They keep
in cellars, huddling together
in cool dampness to stay fresh.
Resistance in them runs deep.
(Just ask the knife that tries to
cleave them raw.) Age nine,
my orphaned grandmother was sent
to pick them in the fields and grew
into a figure unrelentingly benign
in a world that proved malevolent.
She was forgotten and trapped there,
in the potato cellar, for hours,
till someone discovered the error.
Entombed, then freed, she had a share
in rebirth, and now all bowers
had a whiff of pomme de terror.
Indeed, indeed, the seed I was
found itself inside her like a spud
the hour my mother’s embryo
developed ova: by nature’s laws,
dipped in the vitamins of blood
and coming to light like a memory.