Tag Archives: Vermont

Sugarhouse

3 Mar

I helped to build our sugarhouse.
It has a metal roof. Steam escapes
through vent doors on the cupola.

We drill the trees, set the taps,
and hang buckets. When sap runs,
gather it and light the fire.

Slab wood pops and flames roar.
The firebox doors turn orange
and the evaporator boils.

When syrup aprons—when drops cling
and fall together from a dipper—
we draw off into a milk can.

My Dad works very hard.
We all chip in. The best part is
when we take a little taste now and then.

 

sugaringimg006

I grew up in Vermont.  I have many fond memories of time spent with my family making syrup in the sugarhouse we built in our backyard.  Sugaring is hard work, but very rewarding.

This poem is for my dad who worked harder than the rest of us and often stayed up late to finish the boiling by himself.

the sugarhouse

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Elegy For An Uncle

30 Oct

Your second death, this.  The first you cheated—  
buried alive, then resurrected to describe
paralysis beneath a cave-in.

They dug you out.  But no hands reach you now;
your story is complete.  The tumor pressed you
down in ways no one could defeat

and I despise it.  You would have wanted
to assure me that you’re in a better place.
And I want that for you.  But here,

I fight the enemy of your absence.
I can’t get another handshake or hardy laugh.
There is no father, no husband,

no uncle who donned an apron and cooked
chicken halves on a giant barbecue
he had designed and welded,

no quick joke or story to bring a smile,
no soft voice—the sound of a Vermonter—asking,
Hey there, how you doin’?

I have an early memory: you on Grandma’s sofa
snoring loud.  I am only five or six
and a bit afraid of the great rasp.  

Now, remembering it, I hurt—God gave you
for my Uncle, I’ve known love from you, I miss you—
but I’m willing for the hurt to be good news.

                (for Stephen A. Kittredge, 1945-2009)