Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Just The Word Peas \ The Mummichogs

Nancy: When the women gathered to work on the fruits and vegetables to be canned, I often found a place to sit and a way to be part of it.  There wasn’t a lot of money to spend in the ‘30s, but it was the most social time I can remember.

Just The Word Peas

four generations
my mama my granny my mama's
cousin my granny's aunt
and me
sitting in the shade
shelling peas

shelling peas
our hands busy their voices
rising and falling murmur
question and answer
until someone noticed
and everyone noticed

me.   someone said
"little pitchers have big ears"
and for a minute or two
there was only the dozy drowse
of summer
the soft rustle of peas

that summer afternoon
four women
and me
sitting in the shade
living in my memory
five women shelling peas

Alan: Often, walking our lane where it crosses the edge of the marsh, we’ll see a flash and scatter in the brackish pools left behind by the receding tide.  These are mummichogs, tough little fish that thrive at the margins where salinity, oxygen and temperature swing wildly.

The Mummichogs

The mummichogs came up in the small streams.
In the small streams and tide pools
they lingered when the tide went down,
expert hangers-on,
not minding the fresh or the salt.

When the tide went down, they held on
and when the tide returned, they returned
to the sea again for a time
to feed in the salt grasses.

When the tide came up in the streams –
came up farther than before
on the new moons and fulls –
the mummichogs also came up farther

into the pasture
into the woods

and held on.

The tide came up
and the storms pushed it up
and it came up around the knoll where the house once stood
bearing the mummichogs
to a higher home.

The storms came more often now
and they came up farther,
over the knoll and swirling around the backland beyond
and up around the cliffs
the plucked rock faces
from the last glacier

and the very heights of the land

and the mummichogs came up and found
new streams
new pools
new places to feed and breed and hang on.

Where there had been pasture, and woodland, and a house
and cliffs

the mummichogs found new homes

there, after the people and the other land things had gone.

“The Mummichogs” is from a work in progress, Annals Of The Nearer Soon (preliminary title).

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