standing at the sink, peeling beets

I have boiled a quantity of beets sufficient 
to feed a small Russian village through the winter

I stand at the sink now, peeling them, starting with
the smallest, the size of a plum, it fits so easily

in my palm. Slippery and cool beneath the
running water. 

The larger ones are harder to peel and I run the edge of a spoon
down trying hard not to gouge but occasionally, I do

and I wonder, can you gouge something gently
my intentions are so good: I gouge without malice, without aggression. 

On the weekends sometimes, we will watch zombie movies
with our teenage daughter

as a way to think obliquely 
about the terror of living and dying

there are so many close-ups of eyeballs being gouged out
as if that were the only way to kill a zombie! 

I am no zombie expert, but I think there are many ways 
to get the job done. 

*

I feel for a moment like I am being watched
and I turn to find my husband, standing there in the doorway

I am aware of how unglamorous I am - my unwashed hair, 
an old t-shirt and boxer shorts and flip flops. 

He is showered and shaved and smells like “a brisk mountain breeze 
and freedom,” or at least that is what the label promises

dear teenage daughter (dear teenage self): this is what a 10-year marriage looks like.
up to your elbows in cold running water, peeling beets, your

fingers stained red. The fans have been running all day and all night 
this terrible heat, but finally this morning a break in it

*

I am making pickled beets. Jars lined up on the countertop
always, the water boiling the steam

rising up from the enormous pot.  My friend says: Canning? 
Are you going back in time?

Are your churning your own butter? 
Are you wearing a bonnet in your horse-drawn carriage?

I laugh but maybe this is about trying to move
backward in time

or maybe just to make time move more slowly, more
gently, not so relentlessly forward

so that as I stand here at the sink, peeling and slicing 
I can imagine, for a few moments that I might live forever