Gingerbread House Lit Mag

Solstice

and I’m juicing lemons. Hands raw from the nibble of citric acid, wrist aching from the press and twist. Outside, the sun sets at 4:15. Dark presses against the house, seeps through blinds, squeezes rooms small, and this recipe calls for five lemons, which I double to make two jars of curd, but ten lemons render quadruple the amount of juice I need, so I’m scrambling math, cracking more eggs, zesting more peel, chopping frozen butter with one hand while whisking continually with the other. On this shortest day / longest night, I find myself with an abundance of bright, a potful of sun I’ve siphoned from summer’s heart, spooning its tang into rows of jars. Meanwhile, beneath floorboards, I hear rats scritching—I don’t need to name the darkness for it to bury me miles underground. Somewhere, sure, summer is breaking open like an egg, and somewhere else, night swallows the sun, twitching its lips. And somehow the recipe has entirely run away from me because, when I’m done, I count eight brimming jars, and it feels a little Jesus-y, these multiplying lanterns, though I’m certainly no savior and have forgotten how to pray, stuck with my bad math and citrus lamps I’ll have to doorbell ditch on the steps of neighbors, zing their teeth, glow their bones, make mouths to pucker and shine. Hanukkah miracle? No. I could’ve stopped juicing after seven lemons, eight, nine. I didn’t want to, didn’t want those fruits to mold, ached for each drop of sunstuff to push back against dark. Vesicles burst, demi-globes hollowed, scraped down to rind. Bitterness shucked. What’s distilled against winter: a new ritual / an old spell: sour made sweet, summer’s heat, lemon light, lemon light, let there be

Dayna Patterson


Dayna Patterson is a photographer, textile artist, and irreverent bardophile. She’s the author of O Lady, Speak Again (Signature Books, 2023) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Honors include the Association for Mormon Letters Poetry Award and the 2019 #DignityNotDetention Poetry Prize judged by Ilya Kaminsky. Her creative work has appeared in EcoTheo, Kenyon Review, and Poetry. She’s the founding editor (now emerita) of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. She lives with her husband and two daughters in a little patch of forest in the Pacific Northwest. daynapatterson.com

Artwork: public domain

This entry was published on December 30, 2022 at 12:07 am and is filed under 54 (December 2022), Current Issue, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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