A! Magazine for the Arts

Jeff Mann

Jeff Mann

Regional Poetry Celebration

April 6, 2012


It's a craving at this point.
Mid-April, the hand-lettered signs
show up on country storefronts, roadside stands.

I seize the last decent batch
from the bottom of a cooler at Capitol Market.
"You'll reek for three days!"

my grandmother used to warn,
but it's only onion apocalypse
if you eat them raw, I promise.

In the sink I shake off forest mulch,
black mountain earth, I trim off the hydra-
headed roots, dirty diaphaneity of outer skin,

then rinse the leaves, so like lilies
of the valley my mother grew once
by the Greenbrier River, within a grove

of pines. Chopped coarsely, they pop
and sizzle in the bacon fat before I add
sliced potatoes, patience, scrambled eggs,

then finally taste that earthy, spicy, garlic edge.
We love ramps because they're rare, only once a year,
taking spring's evanescence between our teeth

after months of hillside pewter, hoarfrost pasture,
paralyzed ponds, breathing gray
in and out, in and out. We love them because

ramps remember the wild asleep
beneath our skin, a rich green wild
we hungrily take in and taste again,

while another Wal-Mart goes up,
another well runs dry, draglines slice off
the breast of another mountaintop.

Reprinted with permission from Loving Mountains, Loving Men published by Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, Athens, Ohio (www.ohioswallow.com).