On the way to the cemetery,
late summer gravel road, fine covering
of dust layers chicory, Queen Anne’s lace.
We search for angels sent to graves too soon.
Clamber up smooth granite tombstones
in the shade of old oaks saluting
the Underhills, Ackleys, Shumways.
The grass under our feet is dry, reserved.
We try not to yell as we cannon ball
off headstones, rising out of the quiet,
rectangular and flat — miniature buildings
in an empty city. One shiny stone
has a sausage shaped roll on top.
We ride it like a bronco, ready to dive
off if a mourner drives up with trowel
and chrysanthemums to plant at its base.
Tired, sweaty, walking through baking
heat, we see giant elderberry bushes
rising from the deep cornfield edge,
crowns of tiny deep purple fruit
cupped skyward. We pluck the inky heads,
snapping them off at their base, carry home
armloads staining our shirts and hands.
Mom makes elderberry jelly when she is up.
With us, standing over the blue stove,
stirring, waiting for the juice to slowly seep
out of the berries. We will sort and clean
sitting together, our feet touching back
and forth on the front porch swing.
We bang noisily through the front door.
The house is quiet, dirty dishes on the table.
Mom is absent, nowhere to be seen.
We disperse, leaving the tangle of berries
in the sink. One of us will pick through them later,
sorting out the good from the bad, before
Dad gets home, the smell of the juice rising
into the steamy air of the kitchen, familiar,
pungent and puckery, the way we think
wine must taste when we’re responsible
enough to drink, old enough to understand.
Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poetry collection, The Solid Living World, won the 2013 Michigan Writers Cooperative Press chapbook contest. Ellen believes poems are like vegetables sprouting out of buckets and laundry baskets in her front yard – you never know where they will come from, but they always make you feel better.
Categories: Mental Health, Poetry, Themed
Tags: e-zine, Elderberries, Ellen Stone, ezine, hyperbole, longing, melancholy, melancholy hyperbole, Mental Health, new, poem, poet, poetry, poets, submit, writing
sister el–we lived this life and it was bittersweet…..i am forever grateful of your documentation of our childhood and am trying to find a way to be at peace with it ……love you lots now and always–tamar