Friday, September 7, 2018

SAVING SUMMER: A Memoir Poem

Anna (Chalupka) Koziski

Today, I'm sharing a memoir poem about my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather were Polish immigrants who came to America in the early part of the 20th century. Like many immigrants who were peasants, they had a garden and fruit trees and grew much of their own food. Years ago, a childhood image of my Babci preserving tomatoes inspired the following poem:

SAVING SUMMER

In the cellar
Babci sits on an old kitchen chair
made new with glossy gray paint.
Wearing an apron blooming with faded flowers,
she leans over the tub of steaming water,
plucks out plump tomatoes,
and peels off the wet, papery skins.

She fills shiny jars with soft red pulp,
stretches on rubber sealers,
presses down moon-round lids,
clicks closed the metal clamps.
She places the jars in a wire basket
and lowers them into a pot of bubbling water to cook.

On wooden shelves in a corner
she stores stewed tomatoes beside rows of pickled beets,
golden peach slices, green piccalilli,
and carrots the color of October pumpkins.

Standing there in late afternoon,
sunlight shining through a small side window,
I see her harvest preserved:
a rainbow glistening in glass.
Babci is keeping summer alive in jars.


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Carol has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link.

11 comments:

Evelyn said...

Beautiful momories put into great poem! I love this, Elaine!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Thanks, Evelyn! My grandmother was a special woman.

jama said...

Would love to see all your grandmother poems in a collection someday! Thanks for sharing this heartwarming poem.

Elaine Magliaro said...

Jama,

I've written a collection about my grandparents and times I spent at their home titled A Home for the Seasons. I doubt anyone would be interested in publishing it

Margaret Simon said...

A rainbow glistening in glass...beautiful. A lost art.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Touching poem, Elaine...and one with which I can readily identify, as I just finished de-skinning and de-seeding a bunch of our heirlooms in the boiling water you describe. Love your 'rainbow.'

Linda B said...

I love your memory story of your Babci, have many times sat with my grandmothers & either watched, or later helped, with the canning.

Carol Varsalona said...

Elaine, canning tomatoes is certainly one way to save summer. I have a similar story about my Italian immigrant grandmother who used to boil, peel, and make pasta sauce with her prized, homegrown tomatoes. I thought I would continue her tradition but as the years have gone by and time is scarce I do not have the time. On the other hand, my husband has learned how to make a great sauce. I would love to read another one of your grandmother poems.

Kay said...

Beautiful memory captured in a beautiful poem. There is nothing like seeing that rainbow of summer produce preserved for the winter.

Michelle Kogan said...

I think you could weave your collection of poems about your Babci into a picture book, and many would enjoy it! I loved these closing lines,
"a rainbow glistening in glass.
Babci is keeping summer alive in jars."
Thanks Elaine!

handling emotions said...

thanks for sharing