Heather Hutcheson

Recipe for Peach Salsa

She watches the fast knife
of the instructor as he pulls
peaches from boiling
water and carves them
into stars at a metal table
where he has already planed
peppers, pared cilantro.

All she can think is: steam.
It captivates her as clouds can;
she discovers a ship in the vapor
as it sails through a small town
and its trickle of a river then turns
from a grove of coffee trees
into a single plant braceleted

in cherries whose ink fuels
her into midnight, but laughter
from her classmates cleaves her
from the pueblo, ship, grove and
reminds her she’s learning to save
summer, to preserve
the sweetest season.


Dancing a Little

The dead still love us,
and they return some Sundays
like a soft wind across
a warm and lonely afternoon.

It is Sunday, and my father is
with me under the laurel, listening
to the music, dancing a little.
The leaves, dancing a little.


Jesús wants to learn to use the internet

and so he invites me into his tiny room
and tells me, because there is no desk

or chair, to sit on his bed. Already
awkward, our connection

is slow, so he and I attempt small talk,
waiting for the lines to warm up,

for a cloud to shift, for
whatever it takes.

I don’t have the words for this lesson,
but I can teach him the way, lead him

to explore the universe with his fingertips,
show him just how far he can go.

Author Portrait

A professor of English at Cosumnes River College, Heather Hutcheson is the founding editor of the Cosumnes River Journal (crc-ljsubmit@crc.losrios.edu). She organizes an annual senior and student memoir conference, “Our Life Stories,” each spring. During the semester, she promotes a language exchange between day laborers and community college students in a parking lot, and she spends summers teaching English in Oaxaca, Mexico. A former editor of Poetry Now, she has worked as a journalist for The Desert Sentinel and The Atascadero News. She is a contributor to numerous publications, including the American Journal of Public Health.

View the website of Heather Hutcheson