Poetry Sunday: My mother was like the bees

My mother was like the bees

BY TED KOOSER

because she needed a lavish taste
on her tongue,
a daily tipple of amber and gold
to waft her into the sky,
a soluble heat trickling down her throat.
Who could blame her
for starting out each morning
with a swig of something furious
in her belly, for days
when she dressed in flashy lamé
leggings like a starlet,
for wriggling and dancing a little madly,
her crazy reels and her rumbas,
for coming home wobbly
with a flicker of clover’s inflorescence
still clinging to her clothes,
enough to light the darkness
of a pitch-black hive.

Full of surprises and delight

Natural Delights and Surprises = Crystalized Honey

Full of surprises and delight

I tell you, Reader, so many people have asked me about crystallized honey lately that I’ve decided to write about it.

First of all: Honey lasts forever. And I mean forever. As in eternity.

Second of all: The composition of honey may change over time.

Third: Raw honey changes more than pasteurized honey because raw honey contains good and natural surprises in it. Whereas pasteurized honey is stripped of these delights. Good and natural delights change over time. Which is what makes them good…and exciting. Right? The more we try to control change, the less fun we have in this life, Reader. Take it from me.

Fourth: The more tiny bits of natural surprises (such as pollen or wax) in the honey, the more little things there are on which crystals will begin to form. This has to do with science, and I’m not going into science here…let me simply say that the less your honey is strained and heated, the more bits of nature remain in it. And this is exactly why you want to buy local honey—honey that has not been stripped of its local pollen. Local pollen in your honey tastes like home. It also helps those who eat it develop immunities when it comes to local allergens.

Fifth: You want your honey cloudy with little specks of colorful pollen in it. You don’t want your honey clear and runny. You want your honey the way you want your bread or your rice…you want it dense with nature. Not white.

Sixth: So, we’ve established that it’s a good sign if your honey crystalizes because it’s a sign that you are eating closer to nature and the earth.

Seventh: Some of the blossoms on which the bees forage crystalize more quickly than others. So, if your honey crystalizes, it’s a sign that the nectar from which your honey comes was collected from a certain blossom at a specific time of the year. Which is very cool. It’s one of the bonuses of buying honey from a single hive as opposed to buying honey gathered from all over several unknown continents and mixed together and heated in a giant vat.

Eighth: The crystals are reversible. If your mouth prefers to eat your honey without crystals, simply heat the honey-containing jar slowly in a pan of water until the crystals disappear. Or set your jar in a sunny place.

We strain very little of the wonder from our honey. You can still taste the Ohio in it. Which means it will eventually crystalize. Because it is that awesome.

 

Poetry Sunday: Ox Cart Man

Ox Cart Man

BY DONALD HALL

In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar’s portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

He walks by his ox’s head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
feathers, yarn.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year’s coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire’s light in November cold
stitches new harness
for next year’s ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks
building the cart again.

Poetry Sunday: my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

Poetry Sunday: Beyond the Red River

Beyond the Red River

BY THOMAS MCGRATH

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.