Shadow by Patricia Davis-Muffett

Shadow

You were the shadow who followed her
through woods, who sat with her waiting
for the divorce decree. He who appreciated
her predictability, the kindness in her eyes,
the way she sings to herself
when she is alone, the way she buries
her face in fur when she wakes at 2 am,
worrying about her boys, about the patients
she sometimes shepherds
out of this lonely world.

After the emergency vet said enough
so her oncology nurse brain heard
“cancer” before it was spoken,
she burst into tears. She, who sits
with patients every day, most dying
either quickly or slowly. Later, she said,
“That poor vet having to tell me,
having to be with me as I cried.”

*

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Her chapbook, alchemy of yeast and tears, is forthcoming. Her work has won numerous honors including honorable mention in the 2021 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award and second place in the 2022 Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, and has appeared in Atlanta Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, Quartet Journal, Calyx and Comstock Review, among others. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her family.

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One Poem by Patricia Davis-Muffett

What to do with your grief
       for Dionne, June 2020

Butter. Sugar. Flour. Salt.
I am doing what I know.

Nineteen, I call my mother crying:
“I can’t make the pie crust work,”
“Come home,” she says. “We’ll fix it.”
The ice in the water,
the fork used to mix,
the way she floured the board.
It’s chemistry, yes–
but also this:
the things you pass
from hand to hand.

9/11. Child dropped at preschool.
Traffic grinds near the White House.
A plane overhead. The Pentagon burns.
The long trek home to reclaim our child.
We are told to stay in. I venture out.
Blueberries to make a pie.

My mother, so sick. Not hungry.
For a time, she is tempted by pies.
I bring them long after taste flees.

New baby. Death. Any crisis.
I do what my mother taught me.
Butter. Sugar. Flour. Salt.
I bring this to you–this work of my hands,
this piece of my day, this sweetness,
all I can offer.

Today, Minneapolis burns
And sparks catch fire in New York,
Atlanta, here in DC.
My friend’s voice says
what I know but can’t know:
“This is my fear every time they leave me.”
Three beautiful sons, brilliant, alive.
I have little to offer. I do what I know.

*

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She was a 2020 Julia Darling Poetry Prize finalist and received First Honorable Mention in the 2021 Joe Gouveia OuterMost Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Limestone, Coal City Review, Neologism, The Orchards, One Art, Pretty Owl Poetry, di-verse-city (anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival), The Blue Nib and Amethyst Review, among others. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and three children and makes her living in technology marketing.

White Pepper Ice Cream by Patricia Davis-Muffett

White Pepper Ice Cream

We are an odd combination:
not just opposites like hot and cold,
but fully different
like cayenne and cream.

What makes us so good
when we churn into one unthinkable mess
to become a confection for only the brave?

You warn me to take small bites,
taste it a spoon at a time.
I have never eaten dessert like that.
I will eat until I can eat no more,
my tongue numb with spice,
my teeth aching cold.

*

Patricia Davis-Muffett holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and her work has appeared in several journals including The Slate, Gypsy Cab and Coal City Review, on public radio, in the di-verse-city anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, and is forthcoming in Rat’s Ass Review and Amethyst Review. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three children, one good dog, one bad puppy and a demon of a cat. She makes her living in technology marketing.