Skip to content

Poetry by Peggy Heitmann

NETTLE LESSONS

Tough, bare feet trample

over fields to the family garden.

Grandmother and I gather golden,

tassel ripened corn. Crows scatter.

Rain smells

wet enough to taste.

Grey clouds blacken

by the second.

Mama Eva says,

“Hurry shug,

we gotta get a mess for supper.”

Crowder pea vines

planted between stalks

wrap around our ankles,

like snakes coiling,

slithering up our calves.

I step on a nettle bush.

The prickling pain

rushes over me in a flush

of fireflies and biting ants.

Bucket half-full,

nickle-size raindrops

pelt our faces.

We lope through corn,

leap over the ravine

to Granddaddy’s barn.

Creamed corn

yellow and starchy

oozes across my plate

winds its way to fried okra,

peas and sliced, red tomatoes.

Taste sensations overlap

until I almost forget

my swollen foot,

how toughness doesn’t count,

how danger sneaks up on you, less obvious than a snake

and how we run like hell to outdistance the rain.

***Previously published Solo Café 8&9 by Solo Press 2013

 

 

PRITCHITTS FISH CAMP

From Chattahoochee backwaters,

grease smells fry the air for miles.

Private dining rooms net off

hungry folk who come to eat catfish.

Waiters bob in and out of rooms,

like fish breaking a lake’s surface.

A naked bulb spools

light onto the red-and-white oil-cloth

covered table. Coin-operated jukebox rigged

to the wall lures patrons to spin

music titles, and snag a song,

like the one where Johnny Cash and June Carter

tell whoppers ‘bout Jackson.

Thin paneled walls brim

with laughter. Minutes drag, long as a trot line,

seventy-five and counting…

Still no food. Children fish lemons

from a melamine bowl, suck

sour juice, and flash yellow-rind barracuda teeth.

Parents toss aside manners

like left-over bait, ignore children

playing chase, missing corner hooks

of cheap pine tables.

Brown-headed boy wearing

Pritchitts in water blue letters

on a white shirt pocket

snatches the door open,

“Ya’ll doin’ okay in here?”

***Previously published Pinesong Awards 2011—3rd Place

 

RENDERED

After 15 years without

my grandma’s heavy laid

table and the smells

of hoe cakes, butterbeans and baked ham,

I still crave Mama Eva’s Southern cooking.

Larded away like potatoes, onions and apples

in the cellar, memories boil up

of how the two of us blended

an entire summer and caramelized

recipes for a Pillsbury Bake Off contest

I never entered.

After Parkinson’s whisked

Mama Eva’s hands to shaking,

she couldn’t even hold a spoon.

When Aunt Faye and I visited

her in the nursing home.

Mama Eva said, “I wish I could make

some vegetable soup for ya’ll.”

From that day to this,

I have spoiled for a bowl

of her homemade soup.

Now, sticky as pulled candy,

I also think of her peanut brittle,

divinity and buttermilk fudge.

Aunt Faye said she never knew

how Mama Eva chopped, diced, and tenderized

like she did, how she would have cooking pot lids

popping, hissing and simmering out aromas

that brought our family together.

In just minutes, she would have a table brimming

with so much food there was no room for our plates.

Whenever Aunt Faye and I talk about

those times with Mama Eva, Faye always says,

“That was one woman who loved to cook!”

Peggy Heitmann

peggy heitmann

Peggy Heitmann, once native to Georgia, now lives in the Raleigh area with her husband and their 2 cats. She has published works in Asheville Poetry Review, Pembroke Magazine, Cape Rock, Bay Leaves, Mount Olive Review, Pinesong, The Sound of Poets Cooking., and Solo Café 8&9. Her first book of poetry is titled, Patchwork.

 

***Previously published the sound of poets cooking Jacar Press 2010





————————————————————

If you enjoyed reading poems and would like to know when more true stories, essays, and poems will be posted more please sign up for the mailing list. We don’t sell emails and we don’t engage in spam.





 

Published inPoetry

4 Comments

  1. Jamie Jamie

    I really love your style, really invokes every sense. I could almost feel the pea vines snaking around my ankles. Looking forward to more from you!

  2. Mandy Mandy

    The images in these poems really drew me in, and I like how they involve all of the senses. It was like I could smell and feel the rain. I especially like the last poem as it brought me memories of my own grandmas and their cooking. Thank you for these thoughtful poems with their carefully wrought details.

  3. Fred Fred

    I’ve never been to the South, but Peggy’s poems make me feel like I’m there. I like how food is so important to the poems. I think food is more important to our lives than we remember sometimes! Reading these poems makes me want to go and cook a big dinner. I think I need to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work!

  4. Russell MacClaren Russell MacClaren

    Peggy’s style grows from the land, like the food she picked, people she speaks of and family that taught her to glory in her roots. It’s poetry nourished by the earth from which she came, and it makes for rustic reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Blog Directory