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Symposium poem -- Locally grown

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Locally Grown

Apple jelly: my grandmother

and my great aunt shared a duplex

where an apple tree, two varieties,

twined into one trunk, red gladiolas

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along the fence, a double

glider rocker where I took turns

holding hands with the old sisters.

Apple jelly on yeast rolls, a blessing,

like holding hands with time.

Mead uncorked and cold:

bees drunk on sunshine.

Walleye: swims

in cold beer on a long July day,

friends together in lawn chairs,

children chasing through a sprinkler,

the air smelling of repellent and earthworms.

Buckwheat honey: a mucked out

stall, a horse sweaty from a ride

across the pasture,

Whoa, Bessy, there's a girl.

Morels: oak transmogrified,

often found near graves,

the descendants of Gorm and

Grette, the Old, the Lame, the Shy, the Loved.

Murphy's chicken: snow banked

against the coop, a blizzard wind

drove cedar smoke over the shingles,

and indoors, a long game

of Monopoly by candlelight.

Frozen corn in March: three farm boys

ruddy-handsome and circumspect

sat in a blue shade, sold ears

by the dozen, caught grasshoppers

in the ditchgrass to bide the time.

Ratatouille: tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant,

onions from the tidy rows out back

where Pop stood in a seedcap

aiming the hose, considering which

David Mamet to teach come fall. Such

a fancy name for plain food,

for a taste of place.

September sweet corn: the brown Buick's trunk

full of ears, a garbage can for silks

and husks, we sat in the driveway, sang "This old man,

he played four, he played knick-knack,"

until Mom went in to the cool kitchen

where she cut kernels off cobs

and shaped ground beef into burgers

we ate later with the last husked ears,

with the sun teetering on the horizon.

Gooseberry pie: we bushwhacked

along a bluff above the Minnesota River,

found the fruit, bled for it--oh, the spines--

complained aloud, and ate it

rejoicing!

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