Required Reading. After the last week, after the last weeks, and months, and years, this poem strikes at my soul.
Everything is different this year
but jam still needs to be made
because red plums are thudding onto grass.
We celebrate, marking summers.
The year we added lemon. The year it didn’t jell
and we poured it over ice cream until we couldn’t eat.
You send the children out with pails, and their
arms strain against ripeness. Last year they were too small,
pushed plums into their own mouths.
This year, everything too much to contain:
garden overgrown, trees weighed down,
wasps drunk. Bees drowsy with boozy juice.
In the hot kitchen, I slice out pit after pit.
The big pot simmers, scent bittersweet.
You pull glass jars from the oven, sterile,
then ladle jam, pretending there is no such thing as news,
that I haven’t said what I couldn’t keep
from bubbling over:
Nothing is safe.
Not the jars in the cellar,
unopened from last summer.
to the day, not this earth or
the children humming with pleasure in the yard.
You offer me a
spoon, sticky with jam.
I have no taste for red turning pale.
(Gordaneer, Alisa. “Plum Jam.” Still Hungry. Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2015. 31.)