You find a moldy muffin at the top shelf
beneath a sunny supermarket skylight.
Crusty, bulbous, brown as a ball of dirt,
the muffin’s dressed in chocolate chips
that stretch out of the muffin’s body
like buds about to bloom, like sproutlings
embracing spring. The emerald mold clings
like fuzzy moss, catching each speckle of sun
dripping from the ceiling like cold spring rain.
You can picture the muffin in any greenhouse:
a plant in a muffin tray, or a gardener reposed
in a fur coat, too young to praise its own potential,
its roots beginning to dig into the hard soil of life.
But it may be too late for this muffin, given its mold:
revolting to many, picturesque as a pasture to you.
You reach out to touch it. When your pointer finger
grazes its crumbly crown, the mold reaches out
like leafy petals in the breeze, climbs up your arms
without making a noise or a fuss, and spreads across
your face until all you see is green, green, green.
On the floor, on the shelves, on the skylight.
You let the muffin consume you like compost,
your skin lined with chocolate chips, your hair
tangled in long rolls of dry moldy dough.
Wondering how long it’ll take others to find you
like this, growing like a jungle in Aisle 9, you gaze
upwards with a grin, finally proud of your potential.
I can part the dust
on her copper pot
with just one finger.
Before she left, she’d
used to clean out
the streaks inside—
burnt pasta sauce,
melty American cheese—
in buckets of soapy water,
where she tried
to hide her shaky
hands from me
in a maze of yellowed suds.
Since then, no one’s
dared to touch
her sacred pot
as it reposes
in the pantry,
where she left it
Now I imagine
taking it from its
shrine of a shelf
and soaking it
in my kitchen sink,
the sticky dust
and letting my puckered
in the water
as though I might
find among the bubbles
her hands reaching
out to touch the loss
The Zen of Sweeping the Floor
Pushcart Prize-nominated author Jacob Butlett holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Rat’s Ass Review, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.