“I Kept Buying Bottles of Honey” by Francesca Moroney

Francesca Moroney


after Catherine Pierce

as if the amber-hued stuff could actually deliver
the promises of health and wholeness I read
on each label, slowly, repeatedly, kneeling
before them in the grocery aisle. As if tasting
the difference between tupelo and manuka might
finally unlock the bolted door I was forever throwing
my heart against. Because the cashier always smiled
and the clinking jars kept me company on the walk home.
I kept buying bottles of honey as if each satisfying pop!
of a new lid unsealed could be a fresh start, as if my hands,
holding the virgin jar, could serve as makeshift womb, as if
I actually believed salvation could be found in sweetness.
I kept buying bottles of honey because I had no other
addiction—I was allergic to gin, repelled by chocolate,
made hysterical by marijuana. In those days, I lived
on oranges and slices of sky—coffee tasted like dirt,
eggs wouldn’t scramble, toast turned to ash,
and, before I could make porridge, the water
boiled back into the atmosphere. Because I bled
all the pens dry and still could not find the right
metaphor, because the dirges in my journal
terrified me with their crowded, unrecognizable script,
each line a miniature pirate’s plank, my words falling
right off the page. As if the honey could replenish
all that had been plundered. Because the sun
set too early and rose too late and the candles
didn’t catch and the dogs broke the lamp
and even in a good year the magnolia only blooms
for a single week. Because I wanted to be naked,
raw, and wild, but was actually too tired
to live; too lazy to die. Instead, I did nothing
but take my mug outside each morning. I sat on the fallen
pink-and-purple petals and stirred my tea. I waited
for the honey to melt into its newfound heat,
swirling the golden globule round and round—
the shimmering, eddying vortex my tiny, daily
victory: a lone act of creation.

from Poets Respond
June 13, 2023


Francesca Moroney: “After reading the way women celebrate their divorce in Mauritania, I was reminded once again of the utter lack of rejuvenating or supportive ritual that associates divorce in the U.S. In the New York Times article, I saw women feasting with friends, mothers, sisters, townspeople, all dressed in their most festive garb. It occurred to me that I have spent much time since my separation trying to find rituals for myself, even if my society doesn’t make it very easy for me.” (web)

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