Rhubarb Red

I thank God that the pandemic is in the spring —
As opposed to the winter, that is, in all its bleakness.
Winter just sulks in its grayness.
But spring is polite enough to give the illusion
Of new beginnings.

Take our rhubarb patch, for example —
An April harvest when it’s too early to plant!
Bright red stalks of sour goodness
Lift up wrinkly, oversized green leaves.

You can pull up the stalks as easy as pie,
Or cobbler, or chutney.
“Watch out for the leaves,” we warn little kids
Who’ve never seen rhubarb grow.
“They’re poisonous.”

Rhubarb red just may be my favorite color.
My first taste of the sour stalk took place in sixth grade,
When my friend Janine brought some to school.
Expecting something like celery,
I nearly cried at the first hair-raising bite,
But proudly hid my horror and chewed loudly.

Rhubarb red dyes the cutting board as I chop today’s harvest.
I place the pieces in freezer bags,
And take pictures for social media.

Relieved to have a harvest again,
I forget about daily reports
Of confirmed positive virus cases,
And remember what it was like
To buy sugar without wearing a mask.

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