by Emily Updegraff

The women put up peaches each summer
because trees give up their gold all at once.
It’s hard to save something for later—

to crush oil from lavender, extinguishing
its freshness to save the scent for when
summer is gone. And nothing can

preserve the baby’s chuckle, steam
off of bread when the oven door opens,
the tenor’s voice bouncing off limestone.

I want the past and present all at once,
fresh and bottled, live and remembered.
Let them overflow my cup, and blunt

the emptiness before I can notice it.
These valleys of despair, they shape
a vessel that may hold joy. I cannot

perceive their size, or know if I’m
on the rise or downward slope. So I
put gold in the ground believing that

when I need it most, it will break
through the thawing soil and
save me.

Emily Updegraff lives near Chicago with her family and their dog, Coco. She has poems published or forthcoming in Third Wednesday and Great Lakes Review. When she gets home from grocery shopping, she always regrets not having bought more chocolate.