Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Thank You Gift

Yesterday I was privileged to take part in Cambridge's Taste of Cambridge event. I saw many old friends and had a wonderful time despite the heat, which seemed a bit more than predicted.

All that didn't seem to quench the spirit of community that brought hundreds out to enjoy the best in crab cuisine.

As a writer and historian, I was reminded of the heritage inherent in such a festival. Today there are fewer watermen than ever and we should all take our hats off to these hardy souls who work the local waters.

Also to be congratulated and celebrated are the wonderful women who once waited for their men to come home with their catch, which they cleaned with nimble knives and gospel song. As such, I am including one of my best (I hope!) poems as a gift to everyone who remembers the waterside culture and wonders where it went:

Mom Mom

She sits, her hands in her lap at rest,
Fingers bundles of broken twigs,
Brown and knotted, scarred,
Big-knuckled from long hours with the knife
Worrying the sweet meat
From horny red shells that cut to the quick.

Her dress is clean,
Faded at shoulder, breast, and thigh,
Patches over patches
Covered with a familiar apron
Of clean, dim rose print.

Her hair is pulled back each morning
Anchored against the wind –
The constant wind.
Fine lines fan out from
Eyes once as blue as bay and sky,
Now faded into pearly haze.

She was always there
In the house beside the water
Where the fiddler crabs
Clattered their shells
At break of day,
Annoyed at her steps
As she tended the goat,
The chickens, the pig.

She doesn’t need much now.
The neighbors look in on her.
She smiles, says she is fine.
And they leave, shaking their heads
At her presence at all.

Her voice is now an echo
Of the persisting wind
As she whispers her prayers
Over sourdough batter
Started years before and
Stirred with a tarnished spoon.

Her children live on
In faded photographs ranked
By size and age on the mantle shelf
Where the flu is cold
In the summer damp.
They rarely call.

Her man was heavy of hand.
His shoulders as strong as
Trees from the tongs.
She loved him when
The two were young,
But he lay down to sleep
One night, and did not breathe
In morning’s light.

There was a time she waited
On the bridge near the water’s edge
For the sight of a well known sail;
And now for the Maker’s call …
There’s nothing more.

Her world has passed,
And soon her memories will be
Found only in a tattered book
That once fell into the green water
So that the ink ran
And the tales were lost.

I hope you enjoyed the poem and have a wonderful day, and keep on the sunny side!
Love, Terry

The poem Mom Mom is found in my book Myth to Me: Songs From the Inner Light.

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