James Autio


She might’ve had a do-over,
for she had a killer body in spite of perfecting
the best apple dumplings in three counties.
Sweet and hot with a gentle prick
of flaky crust, her pastries could blow a man’s
toupee into the tree as he sat stunned in shadow,
fork in hand, mouth watering
and bald. Had there been competition,
she’d have ribboned at every state fair.

She could pack away a bushel of baked apples
without putting on a pound. Delicious,
down and naked in the bright sun of the garden bed,
pulling shoots of crabplant from the dirt,
she was never concerned for lonely peepers
leering over the fence, had there been one.
For her, Godwarmed skin was enough to warrant
letting the light shine on. She wasn’t shy,
that’s for damned sure.

She brought knowledge.
She was the only woman
a man might want to talk with after a field day
between snake and bleat of sheep.
He liked the way she filled the core
like icewater poured into a shoveler’s gullet.
He felt it should be enough
to be yin upon a man’s yang,
filling a dinner table with tasty trifles
and playing mama-cow to her bull’s
suckling croupkids.

By clack of cloven hoof,
she could tease out the horns on any man,
but sinful fruit treat notwithstanding,
she went another way.
She crossed over the line of her lord’s livery,
signed up for a class set in the heat of an earthenware kiln
and met a cute bluntcut potter in clogs. Together,
they made apple turnovers.