This is an excerpt from Base Pairs by Maria Melendez.


Expectation                                                                       Reality:

to be needed by the world,
and by solano grass, a rare
central Valley plant, delicate and lovely.
                                      Solano grass: the plant world’s wet mutt:
                                      clumpy, drooping leaves, pale inflorescence
                                      rising in a spike of tiny, ragged glumes,
                                      pointed at the tip which, my naturalist’s
                                      curiosity revealed, tasted like battery acid.
                         The patch of Tuctoria offered up its
                         strongest inner oils, anticipating
                         my warm, animal tongue.

Mexican chocolate=
a source of Chicana revelation=
Aztec holy music singing up the palate.
                                              First, dark cup was good, gritty,
                                              but no ancestral voices in sweet steam.
                         Tia Luz sang “The King of Glory Comes”
                         while stirring in the Oaxacan chunks,
                         and the kitchen macaw squawked along.

Love, when finally bound in gold=
Compassion big across as the valley,
Wholeness pure as sleep.
                                              Love enacted daily: a Formica table top
                                              stained with Tension Tamer tea,
                                              a renegade worm of last week’s spaghetti
                                              crusted underneath.
                                Our first table, bought at Goodwill,
                                had little gold strands painted into it,
                                extra leaves to make it longer
                                for our children.