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dcmarti1

Grand Isle, Louisiana, 1900

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My imagined morning for Aphetima Plessala (1892-1979), my great-great aunt.

 

A mason jar of red plum jam,
chilled from the ice box, sweats
on the tablecloth, next to a dish
of just-churned butter.
A thick kitchen towel supports
a blue and white speckled percolator,
the perfume of chicory still heavy.
Empty bowls await the white corn mush
(bubbling on the cast iron stove)
which today will not have cheese,
while plates like vacant eyes
ready themselves for the brown-bottomed biscuits.
It is Friday in Lent.

She is only eight years old,
the youngest, and a daughter.
No coffee cup has been set for her:
she will milk the goat herself,
putting some in a glass
and some in her mush.
Called to breakfast, the family of six eat
in a silence she will always deem odd.
She will marry a man fourteen years
her senior and will live to see
great-great nieces and nephews.

The morning air is already thick and wet.
It is Friday in Lent.

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Intriguing! Tell me about great-great Auntie Aphatima : was she Spanish, Italian, Greek or Cajun? when did her family come to the States (before or after her birth)? How many children did she have? what American town or city did she live in? Was she nice to you? All this curiosity stems from the quiet domestic images of this poem!

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Intriguing! Tell me about great-great Auntie Aphatima : was she Spanish, Italian, Greek or Cajun? when did her family come to the States (before or after her birth)? How many children did she have? what American town or city did she live in? Was she nice to you? All this curiosity stems from the quiet domestic images of this poem!

 

All the Plessalas were of French origin. An Auguste Plessala deserted his French merchant marine ship and settled in Louisiana in about 1828. (Note: his in-laws were in cahoots with the pirate brothers Lafitte.) (Note 2: Auguste's line has been traced back to the Nantes area, about 1635.)

 

Auguste had 3 kids: 1 boy and 2 girls. His son Myrthile had 11 kids and that is where the brood made its mark, haha. She was a grand-daughter. She had 2 girls but I never met them. She was a widow a long time, so I never met the husband. I am pretty sure she lived in a couple of Louisiana cities, but also a brief time in Biloxi, Mississippi. As I only met her twice I can only recall she was nice, and quite dignified with her cane.

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Thank you! That puts a certain amount of life (by which I mean the real breathing thing) into the poem!

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A fascinating and descriptive picture of what seems like ancient history (but in real time is virtually yesterday) that is tied to the way we measure things by the span of one short lifetime to the next. I can recall conversations as a child, that I had with the local blacksmith and my grandmother, who were both born in the 19th century. They could never have imagined the vast changes we'd see in our lifetime; just as we can only speculate on the quality and stability of theirs. Much enjoyed. G

I particularly liked "plates like vacant eyes".

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A fascinating and descriptive picture of what seems like ancient history (but in real time is virtually yesterday) that is tied to the way we measure things by the span of one short lifetime to the next. I can recall conversations as a child, that I had with the local blacksmith and my grandmother, who were both born in the 19th century. They could never have imagined the vast changes we'd see in our lifetime; just as we can only speculate on the quality and stability of theirs. Much enjoyed. G

I particularly liked "plates like vacant eyes".

 

Thanks for reading.

 

"Quality and stability". Can anything ever be REALLY repeated, or are they just "mock-ups"? I did not say "mockery!". :)

 

My great-grandfather (another one of them, of course) was also a blacksmith. Just this year I learned of his grave being in my town. My uncle (90 years old) has memories of rolling cigarettes for him and being allowed a puff. Ugh.

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Enjoyed this Marti.

 

 

 

A mason jar of red plum jam,
chilled from the ice box, sweats
on the tablecloth, next to a dish
of butter that's just been churned.

 

Just a thought.

 

all the best

 

Phil

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Thanks. I am glad you enjoyed. This was so imagistic to one culture I was hoping it would not be a "WTF?" to most readers.

 

Enjoyed this Marti.

 

 

 

A mason jar of red plum jam,
chilled from the ice box, sweats
on the tablecloth, next to a dish
of butter that's just been churned.

 

Just a thought.

 

all the best

 

Phil

 

Hmmm, maybe compare to "just-squeezed orange juice" and "orange juice that's just been squeezed". And syllable count. (No, this is not a strictly metrical piece - obviously.)

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I, too, appreciated the extra historical data Brendan requested and very much liked Geoff's remarks about the people from the 19th century. I had a beautiful picture book about Airstream campers I recently gave to a friend who has a camper. I'm not a camper guy nor am I interested in owning one. As was the case with that book and some others like it that I have, my interest is to a great extent the people (and to some degree the Americana). I'd look at the pictures, read the descriptions about the caravans around the world, and try to wrap my mind around it: "Wow, that guy was old in the 1950s!!!" (He was retirement age, in his sixties then and obviously not around any more.)

 

Personally I loved the way the italicized lines are interspersed giving a glimpse of the future and how the poem then reverts back to the then-present.

 

Tony

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Thank you. :)

 

 

 

Personally I loved the way the italicized lines are interspersed giving a glimpse of the future and how the poem then reverts back to the then-present.

 

Tony

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Your poem puts me right there with. Them.

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On 5/8/2018 at 4:07 PM, Terry L shuff said:

Your poem puts me right there with. Them.

Thank you, Terry.

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