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Preserving

Tomorrow is April 1st. As I write that I feel a frisson of excitement. April is National Poetry Month (in Canada, the U.S. and perhaps other places too). This April, as I’ve done during the last several Aprils, I’m planning to drop other projects and works-in-progress and concentrate on poetry. Yes!!

Last year I wrote a poem a day and posted those freshly written puppies here on the blog.

This year I’m planning to do something a little different. I’ll still be posting a poem a day but from my pantry or cold room, so to speak. I have written many poems over the years that I’ve never published or posted anywhere. This April I’m going give some of them their first outing. I may publish a poetry book review or two and some how-to pieces as well.

If I know the poem’s inspiration or prompt, I’ll post that. If you decide to use that prompt to write a poem of your own, you’re most welcome to type your poem into comments so we can all enjoy your take on the subject.

(I’ll still be writing a poem a day. But I won’t be going public with them while they’re still warm from the oven, at least not most days…I’m a slow writer–need time to rethink, revise, work out the kinks, etc.).

Wishing you a wonderful month of preserving.

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Image: Pixabay

Preserving

Near multitude of washed Gem jars
next to the stove with boiling pot
of glass tops, zinc and rubber rings
she stacks the beans to chop-chop-chop.

Stainless steel bowls of new-shelled peas
wait still and mute for boiling bath
three-minute scald then colander scoop
into cold water filled with cubes.

Skins of tomatoes, peaches, beets
slip easily after scalding soak
hands soon stained red, sticky with juice
of roundness slippery as wet soap.

Sliced cucumbers sit overnight
in salty brine before they take
their Million Dollar Pickle bath
tart vinegar, mustard, turmeric.

In steamy kitchen open-mouthed
boxes wait scoop of beans or peas
jars merrily clink in canning pot
our cold room soon is rainbow-raised

with rich wine beets and red chow-chow
yellow peaches, pickles green
a freezer piled with boxes neat
of carrots, broccoli, peas and beans.

I too gather from my life’s plot
dehydrate, freeze, pickle and can
sustenance for my winter’s days
preserve with paper and with pen.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Prompt or inspiration:

I wrote this poem in response to Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” considered one of the top 100 poems of all time. It was linked on Adele Kenny’s blog The Music In It, her post of April 2015 poetry prompts.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater at The Poem Farm. Two days ago her blog was 7 years old. On her blogaversary post, she shared her National Poetry Month inspirations for the last several years. I love the many ways and places that people find inspiration for writing!

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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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Collins and Canada

I’m delighted to be joining the celebration of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and his 76th birthday on March 22nd. (Thanks to  Heidi Mordhorst and others for the suggestion and heads-up on this!)

Though I don’t have any complete books of Billy Collins’ poetry, I’ve come across many of his poems online and have heard him read and lecture on YouTube. I always enjoy his work. To me it has a Seinfeld-ish vibe—poetry about little inconsequential things that are almost nothing, but in his hands become big, consequential metaphors of life and relationships.

The Poetry Foundation is where I found the poem of his that jumped out at me for today’s celebration. We in Canada are celebrating too. This year is our 150th Anniversary as a country. I’m helping to edit, for our local poetry society, an anthology in honour of that birthday, so I’ve read quite a few poems about Canada lately and was delighted to find a poem of Billy Collins’ called “Canada.”

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Canada Bag – Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly

Canada

– Billy Collins

I am writing this on a strip of white birch bark
that I cut from a tree with a penknife.
There is no other way to express adequately
the immensity of the clouds that are passing over the farms
and wooded lakes of Ontario and the endless visibility
that hands you the horizon on a platter.

I am also writing this in a wooden canoe,
a point of balance in the middle of Lake Couchiching,
resting the birch bark against my knees…

Read the rest…

I used Collins’ “Canada” as a mentor poem for my own Canada poem:

Canada

– Violet Nesdoly

I am writing this on a beaver tail
that my camera captured
beside a dammed prairie stream
under a canopy of blue
that sets off bordering quilt blocks
of yellow, brown and gold.

I am also writing this in Tim Horton’s
where I have just rolled up the rim
to “Please Play Again”
and am thinking of ordering
another coffee along with more hope
of a CRV, TV or even a Tim’s card
to help colour the long white winter.

O Canada, as the anthem goes,
scene of massive mountains
and mosquitoey lakes,
you are the memory of Mountain Lake,
the one-room school on the Saskatchewan prairie
where I learned to skate and spool knit
play Rook and binge read
sumptuous fare: Pookie and Old Yeller
My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead
Caddie Woodlawn, White Fang
Pat of Silverbush and Mistress Pat
which wondrously arrived
from time to time
in a traveling box.

O Canada, I want to be friends
as long as my memory lasts
to snap the bluebells in spring
and herons in fall,
cool off with Iced Capps® in summer
hibernate with poutine in winter
knit toques and pick Saskatoon berries
with only the occasional foray
over the line.
See that north-moving row of cars
approaching the Aldergrove crossing?
The woman in the passenger seat
of the blue Honda
wiping Edaleen ice-cream off her hands
before she digs for her passport
is me.

© 2017 (All rights reserved)

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins (and Heidi Mordhorst, who also has a birthday in March)!

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Heidi Mordhorst and her blog My Juicy Little Universe.

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Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Poems by others, Poetry Friday

 

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Un-Hallmark Mother

Un-Hallmark Mother

While I gifted icon carnations
and Hallmark lines, “Mother” to me
smelled of duty and mothball wisdom.
She my root of conscience, scruple

permission to pursue the chaotic
then, like her, to sort and label.
I lived for her sideways compliments
overheard in conversations with her friends.

Her widow-grief broke down walls:
She was fellow-woman.
Our friendship rooted, blossomed—
she was always so good with flowers.

At the end when she needed help
even to get dressed
my heart pinged for her
like she was one of my kids.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Store-bought cards do express a sweet dimension of motherhood, but the real thing is always much more complex. I would be lying if I said my relationship with my mom was all good. We clashed sometimes during my teen years—and beyond. But we worked through our rough spots and became more than friends. It was a relationship that changed with the times and seasons. Mom died ten years ago this June. Does a daughter ever get over not having her mom around?

The photos are of one of our last outings in May 2006. Hubby and I drove her down to White Rock Beach, took her out for lunch, walked to the bear statue at the end of the path, went to the end of the pier, and posed her under the spring blossoms she loved so much.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by Sylvia Vardell at her blog Poetry for Children.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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I Remember … (NPM ’16-Day 30)

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Story time with Aunt Helen

I Remember…

I remember the holes in the green roll-down blinds
and how they looked like a starry sky.

I remember caramel-colored fly paper
hanging twisty from the ceiling
dotted with black.

I remember making cakes and cookies
when we got to play with water in the sandbox.

I remember lying sick on the couch
and how the flowers in the living room curtains
became faces.

I remember story time with Aunt Helen.

I remember angel food cake
and strawberries with whipped cream
for every birthday.

I remember licking the beaters.

I remember Saturday work
and how much I hated it.

I remember washing the cream separator last
and how slimy the dishcloth got
in old soap and lukewarm water.

I remember early wash day mornings
with the sounds of the chugging machine
and daddy playing quartet records
while he waited for another load
to hang on the line.

I remember starting the fire in the sleigh—
the smell of kerosene and smoke
and how one side of my leg
would soon be sunburn-hot.

I remember grape juice and pop—
our Christmas dinner “wine.”

I remember frosty spring mornings
and cracking crystal ice.

I remember spring evenings
full of the drone and ribbet of frogs.

I remember the smell of earth
and the wind holding its breath
just before a summer rain.

I remember the gentle sound of grazing chickens
on summer holiday mornings.

I remember how prickly nervous I got
gathering eggs from nesting hens.

I remember the smell of the kitchen
when Mom made pickles.

I remember the smell of wheat
in the fall when Dad was combining.

I remember the sweet-sour caramel crab-apples
Mom made for fall picnics.

I remember reading
till 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
and wishing Anne of Green Gables
was my friend.

©2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I decided to take the April 29th NaPoWriMo challenge of writing an “I remember’ poem:

“… write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other.”

I discovered, once I got started, it was hard to stop! The poem contains only a few of my memories. Are they anything like yours?

And with that I come to the end of  poem-a-day National Poetry Month 2016! It was fun posting a new poem every day, even though sometimes a little hectic. Of the 30 poems I published this April, 28 were newly written this month. Thanks for all who came by to read and leave a comment!

I’ll now get back to my usual about twice-a-week posting schedule.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in People, Personal

 

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Learning to Skate

Poet Maureen Doallas tagged me this morning in a poetry-writing meme. Her poem, “Learning to Jump Rope,” is based on Lisa Hesselgrave’s painting Jump Rope Pink Room.

I took my inspiration for the poem below from these lines in Maureen’s poem: “your wrists will begin to ache / at a quarter to three…” As I recall, a skipping rope isn’t the only thing that gives a kid aching wrists.

girl in skates

Photo courtesty RGBStock.com

Learning to Skate

My natural klutziness stumbled
more than Cinderella kissing her fella
kept me stuck on twosies in jacks,
botched up numberless rounds of hopscotch
and learning to skate.
Ice’s cool smoothness
my magnet despite no toe picks
to trip up white tube skates.
Flailing arms broke my fall
dozens of times, wrists ached
from first recess and through the day.
Books were much easier
on the body.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Personal

 

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