To a Forefather

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To a Forefather

Dear Nameless Here,

She always says you could tell a joke–
not the canned kind–you know,
something you’d heard–
but the kind you made up to fit
the moment,
there, right on the spot.

She calls it your sharp wit
and speaks of it as
admirable–oh, but yours
must have been
very sharp,
cutting as the pried lid of the can
that you pressed down on her. for it’s sure held her
long enough–
long even
after you’ve gone.

How is such pressure applied
where there also must
be love?
How is it preserved,
passed on?

I think of peaches sunken
in a tin, saved
in a cellar.
Peaches that are no longer exactly
peaches
after their best-use date,
assuming they ever had one,
assuming, too,
that they were once peaches.

But they must have been—oh yes—
only cut perhaps
before they sweetened,
cooked green,
hard,
sharp,
never allowed to be what someone might press
to her own soft cheek, breath in, seeking succor.

***************************
Draft poem 10th in 10 days, for With Real Toads prompt by the truly terrific and always sharp (in the best of ways) Mama Zen who blogs at Another Damn Poetry Blog.   (With a recycled pic of mine.)

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10 Comments on “To a Forefather”


  1. “cutting as the pried lid of the can
    that you pressed down on her. for it’s sure held her
    long enough–
    long even
    after you’ve gone” I wonder if love was so sweet it remained or more like peaches gone sour that leaves its scent on memory. You always have the most creative take on every challenge..

  2. Jim Says:

    I enjoyed reading this, k. How sharp was were we talking about? I loved hearing it, “very sharp, cutting as the pried lid of the can.”
    And the rubbing of a ripe peach on one’s face, most of us can relate to that.
    Did that forefather sometimes wander while he was telling his homemade joke?
    ..

  3. Ella Says:

    Wow, this is my new favorite~ The idea of being pressed, not allowed and smothered~ Yes, love can be too much- I love how you wrote this, I have to read it again~ Stunning

  4. M Says:

    sharp as the edge of the can here, K. ~

  5. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    You remind us of that cutting edge, the pressures that define who we are, over the generations. Your use of the peach analogy is brilliant.

  6. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    There’s a furious energy in this.

  7. Mama Zen Says:

    I love the way this kind of wraps around you as it carries you along. And, it made me think.

  8. hedgewitch Says:

    We are indeed defined in many ways by what has cut and pressed us while young, often purporting to be, like these peaches, as you say, something it isn’t, and maybe never was. A lot of phrases in this could be quoted, but really, each works into the next so well that it is more of a whole without summing its parts. I have to admit that the last stanza is probably my favorite, though, being sort of a perfect, tinny tasting verbal syrup at the bottom of the can that tells it all about making do with what is past the due date and how it spoils.


  9. The comparison of the person to peaches – “assuming they WERE once peaches” – really really works in this poem. Especially that cutting edge of tin. Yoiks.


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