white mittens

Knitted from strands of fresh
fallen snow, soft as doves
asleep on the neighbor-girl's
outstretched hands
the most beautiful mittens
Annie ever saw.
Her eyes taste the white ovals,
savor the stitches
as if licking tiny sugar cubes,
halting, yet eager, lustful,
yet making it last.

Neighbors do what they can.
An extra loaf, a few fruits,
a small jar of mustard candy.
Hot soup to soothe mother's
consumptive cough, fill
the children's bellies.
This day,
mittens for Annie

red mittens
knitted from skeins of long labor.
Red mittens.
Look, her mother says
and Annie turns away.

the neighbor-girl offers.
Annie grabs
the perfect rows of stitches,
balls the mittens in her hands,
throws them in the fire—
swallow the ripened hearts

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