Flour and Ash

“Make flour into dough,” she answers,
“and fire will turn it into food.
Ash is the final abstraction of matter.
You can just brush it away.”
 
She tacks a sheet of paper to the wall,
dips her hand in a palette of flour and ash,
applies the fine soft powders with a fingertip,
highlighting in chalk and graphite,
blending, blurring with her thumb.
Today she is working in seven shades of gray.
 
Outside the door, day lilies
in the high flush of summer-
about-to-be-fall. Her garden burns
red and yellow in the dry August air
and is not consumed.
 
Inside, on the studio wall, a heavy
particulate smoke
thickens and rises. Footsteps grime the snow.
The about-to-be-dead line up on the ramp
with their boxy suitcases,
ashen shoes.
 
When I get too close she yanks me back.
She hovers over her creation
though she too has a mind
to brush against that world
and wipe it out.

Chana Bloch, "Flour and Ash" from Blood Honey. Copyright © 2009 by Chana Bloch.  Reprinted by permission of Autumn House Press. www.autumnhouse.org
Source: Blood Honey (Autumn House Press, 2009)
More Poems by Chana Bloch