- Jan McLaughlin
The last of the sweetest corn is in.
The tomato patch begins to thin.
The final field of beans comes on.
Acorns plop and thud in wind
that cracks the woods near which we live.
Rain moves down the fields in waves.
Because they fall, it's time to pick
the chestnuts where they land.
Like Easter eggs, they hide before our hands.
Their shells reflect and glisten.
Before the chest, the hazels drop.
With hammer and a nail the hazel's
chipped apart for its meat that holds
its perfect winter oils;
the beginning of the laying on of fat.
This fundamental commerce
pays one buck a nut
from Mother's grocery money;
makes me again a girl
in my mother's house
where a gentle, persistent order reigns;
the discipline of days in which
one always wakes this day to watering,
and that, to baking;
the daily foraging for food
so fresh and close the roots sing
the names of their leaves
even as they slide down throats
to return again to soil.
We share the joy of
the coming on of chestnuts.
The first day a few,
then in the first cold rain
We hold the gathered nuts in bowls,
where they turn from white to brown in air,
You can't take them 'til they're ready.
Hulls with nails are haughty warning.
Boiled are best:
hot and rife with wood & smoke
even without coals.
We tangle with the squirrels.
Autumn's Easter hunt.
Nov 29, 2009
Picking Chestnuts :: an Autumn Poem
Formats available: MP3 Audio (.mp3)