Cynthia Gallaher | Oats, Brown Rice, Cranberries and Figs

Oats: The Last Grain

When cool, misty hands
passed over wheat and barley fields,
a few stray oats pushed up a “V” for victory
waving at farmers, as if to say, “What about us?”

Taking them for weeds,
farmers took them down
but slowly noticed oat had a grain of its own,
perhaps of meager use in the stalls or henhouse.

If the last becomes first,
how come oats ended up
in the equine’s feedbag
instead of on the king’s table?

With knight-like strength, able to battle
cold climates in its husky unarmed coats,
encourage poor soil to bring out its inherent richness,
and carrying a legacy, oats transfers fortitude

To whomever consumes it.
Would it be out of line to say
it was missed back in 1816,
when a shortage left thousands of horses starved

And a pony-powered system lay outmoded for a season,
to lead someone to give transportation a new spin
with steedless steads, bicycles, followed by motor cars,
then a world too soon dependent on speed,

A whirl slowed only amid spiraling lipid
and blood sugar levels, and a realization
that oats aren’t only for horses,
nor are weeds.

Brown Rice Life Coaches

Hardheaded little buddhas
rise from legs that fail to roam,
feet wrapped in wet chartreuse
of terraced paddies.

Wading workers are the ones
to dance clockwise and counter around
shoots, who dip and whip
arms to harvest and thresh.

Small brown crowns
take bows along the road
to macrobiotics’ “big life,”
where little bones build larger ones,

The skeletal structure of diet number seven,
cups of green tea
for breakfast, afternoon snack,
then brown rice for lunch and dinner,

For a solid week.
To some,
to eat is
to eat rice.

What can you do in 45 minutes?
Teach a class before the bell rings,
get to Broadway if you live 45 minutes
from Broadway.

Swim 100 lengths of the pool at a steady clip,
and cook brown rice in between,
grain domesticated millennia ago
to suit both today’s multi-taskers

or those who count each measured spoonful as meditation.

Massachusetts Cranberries

Afloat, a party of redheads on a giant waterbed,
squeezed into cozy corners before they freeze
by sleepy workers hip-high in prophylactic waders.

Or are they gathered like scarlet colonies
of miniature planet mars vanquished to earth,
set loose from ancient-armored spaceships barrels.

Through the processing factory window
brigades of tangy spheres bounce madly
florid against the backdrop of thick snow.

Then bagged like pachinko parlor booty
to soon become Thanksgiving sauce,
tart juice tender to holding tanks,

Or strung white, red, white, red,
both self-contained and exploded on thread
in rows with popcorn.

Figs: Animal, Vegetable and Mineral?

Is trans-species hanky panky taking place
in plain sight, open air, beneath fig leaves?

Pushy, stingless, pollen-ridden wasps
lose wings and antennae on one-way trips

Through fig’s valve-like eye,
to burrow in its fertile maw,

To weave wispy wasp feet
into fleshy furnishings,

Line walls thickly in onyx,
strew carpets with amethyst pillows.

To help become the food that
separates the civilized from barbarian.

Yet make fools of those
who savor figs as a strictly vegan treat.









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