Stranger Jelly

Noah Stetzer

Go for a jar of jam at the market and realize days later when you pull
it from your fridge that in fact it's something you never in a million years
would have ever thought to even try much less buy and there you are

in your kitchen ready for toast with butter and jelly holding a jar of never
thought of, never knew it, never thought to know it even existed in all
the world, jam. And the late afternoon sunlight streams through the windows

and the dog paces around her bowl of food and there you stand with a strange
jar in your hand, toast on the plate, butter melting into the soft and salty top.
Try and identify the road markers, the points of reference, the roadside sights

that led you to that house, that day, that afternoon in the winter with the nights
of Christmas behind you and the New Year's new eyes giving you the once over.
Try and see the room that day where you stood with a jar of jam you couldn't recall

pulling from the market shelf—holding a jar of jelly in a flavor that you didn't 
even know existed. Are you in a dream, are you in a film, are you someone else: Notice 
the person with a mistake in his hand, a cold glass jar of a mistake in his grip— 

standing like an oaf with his toast and his dog. Is it you in that room with the sun 
pouring down pale with almost rain through the panes? Who are you in this room 
with the hot toast smell and the salty butter tang in the air? Are you hungry for it now,

are you ready for something that you hadn't expected? What kind of strength 
is needed to allow yourself to try this thing this stuff that you couldn't even 
pronounce grabbed by accident like it meant something—not just a different 

flavor, this is something else, this is never had never thought of. You are stuck 
at the sink with a jar of jelly that you don't recall buying and now you want to know 
what to do next. Welcome to the kitchen with your life around your shoulders  

that you couldn't have sketched out if you tried at your drunkest. You are drunk 
in the kitchen making eyes at the neighbors with your jar of stranger jelly 
in your left hand and a drink in your right. You are standing twenty pounds 

heavier in your kitchen waiting for toast and jelly for jam with butter 
spread on warm browned toast. You are lost in your house in the pale 
white sunlight without jelly or jam and ready for toast and for butter.