An Old Man Performs Alchemy on His Doorstep at Christmastime by Anna George Meek
published in her book, Acts of Contortion (2002)
Cream of Tartar, commonly used to lift meringue and angel food cake, is actually made from crystallized fine wine.
After they stopped singing for him, the carolers became transparent in the dark, and he stepped into their emptiness to say he lost his wife last week, please sing again. Their voices filled with gold. Last week, his fedora nodded hello to me on the sidewalk, and the fragile breath of kindness that passed between us made something sweet of a morning that had frightened me for no earthly reason. Surely, you know this by another name: the mysteries we intake, exhale, could be sitting on our shelves, left on the bus seat beside us. Don't wash your hands. You fingered them at the supermarket, gave them to the cashier; intoxicated tonight, she'll sing in the streets. Think of the old man. Who knew he kept the secret of levitation, transference, and lightness filling a winter night?
—an effortless, crystalline powder that could almost seem transfigured from loss.