Reading the top 10 2016 articles from The Best American Poetry blog. Along with Alan Michael Parker's revelatory essay on the worst workshop ever, this one by Emily Deming Martin is about St. Johns, Newfoundland and what a rare place it is. I seldom post poems, but I'm currently writing about food and autobiography, and this essay reminded me of a poem about food I wrote for my father who grew up in Nova Scotia, and how places fade away.
Thank you, Best American, David, and Stacey for publishing these fabulous gems penned by poets on all the subjects under the sun.
Beloved Canadian Sandwiches
Candied ginger, walnuts, and cream cheese on white with the crusts cut off’s what they served after church in the facility. I drove an hour there and back for a crack at just half.
Cherries (but should be berries—wild ones—everywhere—spilling out in bushels from bushes growing in ditches) and margarine or somesuch.
Leave it to the left-behind to linger on things they believe the leavers left for
Congested Donald in Meat Cove writes: Dijon mustard and horseradish in a #10 envelope.
Canada's #1 export is envelopes.
Most passed on the smoked salmon and salted sour cream on black bread and went straight for the lunchmeat. It was once we had so much of things from the sea they was steeped in tea ’til no one could stand the sight of them. Imagine. Now that even Canso’s clean fished out and dead. Nothing’s along that long drive out to the point but crows.
Prime Minister’s a Mary: fat-free potato chips atop date squares.
Anything with dates on account of how they travel: years alone at sea.
Anything with Mary on account of how she you-know-whats.
So many places, fished out and dead. Even the fish. Even the dead.
With Dad, it was molasses. Steak burnt black. A grapefruit half crunchy across its surface with sparkly sugar—like the ice rink at night.
Tea-poached chicken and dressed watercress on wheat so burly it slices the roof of your mouth up like too much dry Cap’n Crunch (which is cheaper by the box than a pint of wild berries, picked from a ditch bush).
Baking bread took all day—it used to be a wonderful thing not to have to bake
your own. But then, the bread…
Ruth poured cream on everything but margarine (which now grows on trees).
Anything that traveled well from Canada (not Ruth).
Salami, mustard and pickles. Cucumbers’ll grow anywhere (but that’s what they said about salmon).
Leave it to the leavers to linger on the things they left behind (which, from there on out, stand still: no such salmon since, etc.)
So many they’s fished out.