Oddments

In search of story


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November 24.21: Coping

In the kitchen

live the ghosts

that waft with air

of pies and roasts.

Abiding still

in towel and platter,

in recipe card

with ancient splatter,

they hover close

and scrutinize

with furrowed brow

and x-ray eyes

my every move,

my chops and pares,

as I use things

that once were theirs.

And then they squeeze around

to eat,

they watch our manners

heads to feet,

then, with a wink

to everyone,

salute themselves

for job well done.

 

 

Here is the crowd in my kitchen this week: my mother’s recipe for stuffing in her handwriting, the towel my Grandma Mauck would wet and wrap over the turkey to keep it cozy, their baster and meat thermometer, the platter my Grandma O’Hern’s turkeys came to the table on. Three women at my elbows.

You will note the towel is linen. My mother and her mother insisted on linen dishtowels, and, yes, my dear incredulous reader, they had to be ironed. Ironed damp, no less. In my generation, the technical term for such things was “flatwork,” and it was how we served our ironing apprenticeships. Handkerchiefs, pillowcases and sheets, linen towels…flatwork. Yes, we ironed sheets and pillowcases. And underwear. As I hear it, young women today wouldn’t know which side of the iron gets hot. (They’re smarter than we were.)

But I digress.

It’s a difficult time no matter where you live, dear reader; I wish I could make things better for you, for all of us. You might not celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week, but you can know that I am giving thanks for you because you have helped me write, and that has been a huge gift to me. Thank you!

 

 


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September 17.21: Coping

September stands tall

between spring’s childhood

and winter’s dotage,

a bit round perhaps

with pumpkin paunch,

its brow gold-speckled,

but vital still.

One leaf, two leaves,

abacus of mortality,

drop

in quiet obedience

to the authority of time.

A cicada sings of ennui,

its sleepy notes sticking to

wet morning air

where August lingers.

 

 


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September 9.21: Coping

Harvest comes soon,

the greens rich and deep,

how touchable, sniffable

the twining leafed keep.

A scruffy-kneed gardener

with nails edged in black

beams notwithstanding

the crick in his back.

It’s ever a miracle —

don’t try to explain

how seeds and a longing

are linked in life’s chain.

 

 

With thanks again to my back-yard gardener son,

for both the photo op and the basil!

 

 


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September 3.21: Coping

We were green once,

in salad days,

fixed firm to umbilical vine,

slowly orange,

until, soaked in sun brine,

we plumped to red.

All as written by some sightless scribe

ordaining how life seeds,

or maybe

by some deliberate kindness

in back yard dirt

that soul and body feeds.

Gardeners wonder.

 

 

With thanks to Shakespeare

and to my firstborn, Dennis, the backyard gardener.

 


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September 1.21: Coping

The humble crumble

butter and flour,

sugar, of course,

for superpower.

Bumply roof

for muffin, cake

takes the edge off

pain and ache.

A sure Rx

for life’s annoyance,

transformative

to smile and buoyance.

There’s crunch

no matter where it’s put,

betwixt the teeth

or underfoot.

The perfect jewel

on nose or chin,

timeless fashion,

lap or skin.

Childhood’s lesson,

ever sweet:

it’s no fun

to be too neat.

Many thanks to Judy for her wonderful vegetable recipe!

May it be a blessing on your September, dear reader!


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August 24.21: Coping

Aesop says be like the ant,

eschew grasshopper ways:

the ant puts by and plans ahead,

grasshoppers waste their days.

The ants in frantic harvest

prepare for winter’s grey.

The grasshopper, all moony,

ponders the green of today;

in foolery like writing

does he his muse pursue;

he yearns to be a poet

and use words like “eschew.”

 

Many more thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

I have no idea how he got the grasshopper to pose like this.


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August 1.21: Coping

Gnoshing in the marsh

beneath the summer skies,

smoked fish the blue plate special

to heron’s gulped surprise.

From ashen cloud an eagle’s

gravelly croak is heard:

“Can the presidential seal

be changed to coughing bird?”

 

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg,

braving the smoke from the west

hovering over Virginia.

 

 

 


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June 15.21: Coping

The eye of the hare,

what jaundice hue,

therein hinted

a whole world view,

carrot-tinted,

gluttonous gleam,

taking measure

in pound and ream,

spying greens

and petals fair —

what was planted

no longer there.

A lesson life

has clearly taught:

know when your efforts

come to naught;

to try again is

laudable habit,

but not when competing

with the rabbit.

Let it go,

it wasn’t to be;

the garden this year

is plant cemetery.

 

Alas, dear reader, it seems not to be a year for a garden. Moss roses, daisies, marigolds, gauras, zinnias, lantana, even spiny rudbeckia — chomped. Dill? Parsley? In my dreams! What with the rabbits devouring my flowers and the cicadas dive-bombing me, I think this might be the summer I stay inside and clean my house. OK, you’re right: that’s not likely. But still I’m steamed.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg and to sculptor Jürgen Goetz, and to the rabbit that posed for Dürer’s drawing, thereby giving Goetz inspiration for his sculpture, glowering near Dürer’s house in Nürnberg. The gnarled hand under the hare is obviously the defeated gardener.

 


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June 2.21: Coping

I’m so little I can hide me

among the garden rocks,

I’m as welcome as a locust

and cute as chickenpox.

I wear a soft and furry coat

with cottontail behind,

but my heart is solid porcine

my ancestors all swine.

Chorus: Oh, engorgement!

I’m happy to my toes!

I’m coming for your garden

with a clover on my nose!

 

To be sung to the tune of “Oh, Susannah.”

With apologies for the foggy look:

I had to finagle a shot through the Venetian blinds again.