Tough, bare feet trample
over fields to the family garden.
Grandmother and I gather golden,
tassel ripened corn. Crows scatter.
wet enough to taste.
Grey clouds blacken
by the second.
Mama Eva says,
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.
pelt our faces.
We lope through corn,
leap over the ravine
to Granddaddy’s barn.
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
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, 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
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