Gleaning nuts- a prose poem about aging

Can you glean nuts? Sure, says me. And I wrote a prose poem to illustrate.
I am reading at Whately Congressional Church on Monday, June 24th at 7pm – 177 Chestnut Plain Road. Probably will not read the following. So here ’tis.
When there’s nothing left in the garden but garlic, parsnip, and tomatoes that may or may not withstand the predicted light frost, I compete with squirrels for grounded butternuts. The flesh around the woody shell is green and fuzzy. My fingers are tarry with the handling. In a month, left in our dry cellar, with luck, the fuzzy flesh will become brittle husks, but the meat inside will remain moist and fit to be eaten. The shell is similar to a walnut, but thicker and harder. By November if the nuts don’t rot, the mice don’t find them, and if there is no snow, I will take a hammer to the shell, on the sidewalk, like I did as a kid. Maybe one in ten will be “just right” with a toasty flavor. To most palates the butternut is not as pleasant as the walnut, its better known cousin. Nine in ten will be either “under” with an astringent taste or “over” with a slightly rotten dirty taste. Nine in ten will either never reach my mouth or get spit in the yellowing grass. But the meat of that one in ten will be the perfect combination of oily texture and slightly bitter taste that make the foraging worthwhile. The best part is tossing the shells in a bucket, the satisfying lonely thump in the ear that only a child, or an adult remembering the smug secrets of that child exiled to the side yard for bad behavior, competing with squirrels for grounded butternuts, ever gets to hear.

“Aging,” Spilling Ink, Arts Unbound, England, Whales, Amy Burnes editor, Issue 5, June 2011
“Aging,” Spilling Ink 2006-2011, Unbound Press, England, Whales, Amy Burnes, editor, 2011.

About sallybellerose

Author of The Girls Club, Bywater Press, spring 2011 writer gardener booklover
This entry was posted in mainstream literature, Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Gleaning nuts- a prose poem about aging

  1. Kieran York says:

    Beautiful! Just plain beautiful! Thanks for sharing your unique perspective in a lovely poem. Poet/gardener – what a great combination!

  2. Barrett says:

    That was nice. Made me think about the acorns of my youth,or even other wild foods like crab apples and wild onions. My favorite was fresh snow. I wouldn’t eat it now, but boy, what a treat.

  3. Thanks for reading. Snow, oh yes .And now that you remind me – sour grass – which doesn’t tempt me, even though we do have it in our garden. And why did we ever stop gathering young dandelions?

  4. There was a butternut tree on the Department of Elections grounds here. For years I marveled at the amount of nuts on the ground that no one wanted. One day I, unsuccessfully, tried to break the shell of one and instantly understood. After reading this prose I jumped in the car and drove to the tree. Alas, it had been cut down and replaced with a parking lot. Nevertheless, you’ve given my memory the meaning that it lacked before – and I thank you. Very nice.

    • Thanks Marguerite – I read this poem at a reading with an aging theme. Wow the old people in that audience were an inspiration, as were the folks reading. As are you. sallyb

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