How the Balaton Wine Survived,
by Jessica Jewell

Most of the soil takes in the seeds
and what are left darken
into the volcanic loam. One sunbeam
each for the sprouts. The wind empties
out of the lake and climbs the sharp
hillsides. At the top, the church bell
announces Sunday lunch. Startled,
Agnes Varga drops the bowl of peas.
Something you might call happiness
is happening now. A century ago
every vine from here to Szekszárd
was nibbled away by the phylloxera bugs.
This was before the Emperor was murdered.
Before the bombings left wide gapes
in the monastic cellars and most of the village
men were sent to the front. Before
widows and mothers who mourned
had nothing left to nourish but a grape.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 1.

Jessica Jewell’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, the American Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, Copper Nickel, Rhino, Barn Owl Review and Poetry Midwest, among others. Her chapbook, Slap Leather, was published by dancing girl press in 2011, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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