“Preserved” by Jamie A. Hughes

In my grandparents’ basement,
lines of Mason jars, stiff as soldiers
in parade formation, filled the rough
pine shelves. Provisions hard won
over weeks of sweltering stovetop labor.
Tomatoes boiled, peeled, and jarred hot
floated like wagging tongues
next to pickles bearded with fresh dill
and beets the color of pooled blood.
Spiny okra fingers reached toward
the tempting ripeness of blushing apricots,
while jars of disembodied corn and peas
thumbed from their snug pods swam above
jellies and jams, relishes and soups.
When the tornado came, we ran to their
summer stillness, sat fearful in neat rows
as the wind raged overhead like a slighted god,
felt the pressure squeezing our bones.
The house held its breath, prayed to be passed over,
all the while, the jars chattering like teeth.

Jamie A. Hughes is a writer/editor who lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, sons, and two needy cats. She has been published in Ink & Letters, The Bitter Southerner, Barren Magazine, and You Are Here Stories. You can find more of her work and other ramblings at tousledapostle.com.