Sunday, September 30, 2007

Canned Tomatoes Sealed in the Cellar Hole

It's that time of year again. The kitchen is a mess. I'm a mess and when I close my eyes I see red. I'm canning tomatoes. I've only done 16 quarts so I'm a little disappointed in my gardening. I'm thinking this is the price you pay for going organic.

I found this beautiful poem that mentions canned tomatoes. I found it on this interesting blog, The Convoluted Muse. The poem was originally read on NPR. Try not to hold that against it.

Abandoned Farmhouse
by Ted Kooser, 1980
from Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems

He was big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by his house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
A woman lived here, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jar of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.

It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.
Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm - a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.


Lily said...

I like that poem. It is a very moving piece.

Heather said...

Excellent poem...very sad though. I may just have to nick it for my blog. And the poems that are on "Writer's Almanac" (which is where I'm assuming it was read on NPR) are usually very good. It's one of my favorite things on NPR :-)

Lily said...

Just wanted to let you know, Mary, that I read those Maximum Ride books, all three of them this weekend, what a FAST read. I was disappointed in Patterson's writing, but it may be because he was writing in teen speak. I enjoyed the story, there is surely quite a lot to think about in them. The hybrid humans thing, ewww. There is a lot of value in the books for that reason alone, and I'm sure that most teens will enjoy the story even if they cannot see beyond it to the horror of the genetic manipulation. Thanks for recommending it, I'm going to be sure to pass it on to my teen children.

Heliodora said...

Okay. That was just depressing.

Lisa said...

Yeah, sad poem. But it's going to stick in my head all afternoon... That makes it a good poem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for referencing my blog, I too like the poem. :-)