Food Poem – Canning by Joyce Sutphen

The last string of words, “packing a glass suitcase for the winter,” make me smile. Enjoy.

It’s what she does and what her mother did.
It’s what I’d do if I were anything
like her mother’s mother—or if the times
demanded that I work in my garden,
planting rows of beans and carrots, weeding
the pickles and potatoes, picking worms
off the cabbages.
Today she’s canning
tomatoes, which means there are baskets
of red Jubilees waiting on the porch
and she’s been in the cellar looking for jars.
There’s a box of lids and a heap of gold
rings on the counter. She gets the spices
out; she revs the engine of the old stove.

Now I declare her Master of Preserves!
I say that if there were degrees in canning
she would be summa cum laude—God knows
she’s spent as many hours at the sink peeling
the skins off hot tomatoes as I have
bent over a difficult text. I see
her at the window, filling up the jar,
packing a glass suitcase for the winter.

“Canning” by Joyce Sutphen from First Words. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2010.

From the Writer’s Almanac

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