Wine Making to Marion Williams Singing

Mela Kirkpatrick

When it quits working, seal the jar tightly and store in a dark place.
The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery

Swing low, sweet chariot

the gushes of juice,
   slurping between our fists
sunk in hundreds
   of purple-red grapes,

indiscriminately splatter
   our arms, faces, counter
tops and bare feet—
   out of time with the choir.

      I looked over Jordan, and what did I see

the overripe are easy
   yielding their water
under a firm thumb
   and hooked forefinger,

      a band of angels coming after me

but the others, we have
   to grind between our palms
until the translucent
   glop is squeezed

      coming for to carry me

from its filmy skin,
   the juice, peel and neglected
bits of meat sifting sweetly
   between our tired fingers.

      Swing low, sweet chariot

when all our grapes
   are crushed together, we
gauge, pour the sugar, wonder
   how long we can wait

      coming for to carry me home.