Poverty can be sweet, overripe
plums with the bird bites cut out
or donuts made from two-for-one
canned biscuit dough fried in grease
leftover from the Jerusalem artichokes
we plucked from earth like oversized pupae—
I can’t escape my roots because I ate them,
dirt crusted beets that bled
into our finger pads, slivers of carrots
harvested too soon, a bag of unmarked
white powder from the food bank
mom threw away when she couldn’t identify
(We aren’t that poor yet)
and milk could mean a gallon, or boxed chalk
mixed into water.
Now I make guacamole from rotten avocados,
cover limp lettuce with dressing;
wine that turned and smells like raisins
can be used in a soup
and stale bread is perfect
for meatloaf or bread pudding.
That has mold, my husband says.
Cheese is mold, my mother would say.
We’d scrape it out with serrated blades,
the same I use to scrape the pink from my fingers
but blood rises where the stains used to be.
I suck it down. I don’t waste one drop.