Green Beans

22 Oct

I mentioned a few weeks ago that when I was in college I wrote a poem about Green Beans. I know you’ve all been dying to read it. It’s short, so don’t worry. I might change a few things if I were writing it now…but I decided to leave it as-is. Oh, and I must thank Miss Moose who found her copy of it from way back when. She’s taken better care of my poetry than I have. THANK YOU, Moose! So…here you go! A bonus mid-week post. 🙂

Green Beans

Her summer’s in jars,
pickled and processed, sliced,
a woman’s work.
Hours spend feeding her family,
preparing for winter’s freeze.
Her hands toughened, heart
sealed against her family’s complaints:
they don’t like green beans.

She absently tests each lid,
“quality control”, they call it.
They wish all the beans would spoil.
From the kitchen above a loud, “Mom!”
makes her jump,
and the jar she was holding, with the perfect seal,
the perfect “I do”, smashes,
and fills the air with the smell
of hot kitchen, burned fingers, sweat.

“What’s for dinner?” they ask
through the kitchen floor,
while she tries to gather up the glass and beans,
and the hands that picked and washed,
filled and processed,
stacked and dropped,
reach up, cut as they are,
and shove the remaining jars farther back on the shelf.

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9 Responses to “Green Beans”

  1. CMO October 22, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    What a grumpy poem!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Poetry often is. 🙂 Keep in mind that I wrote it PRIOR to being married, being a mother, or ever having canned a thing. And the perfect “I Do” has been found to be way more durable than a glass jar of vegetables.

  2. CMO October 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Smarmy comment retracted…

  3. Ron October 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    I like it. I also wouldn’t be afraid of revision. Poetry grows as we do. It would be cool to see the Gretchen now version of this poem.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

      Hey, Ron – thanks! Yeah, revision is huge. I may just have to re-write it…though I’m fairly certain that it would be entirely different if I did. Back then I imagined the woman to be an unhappy housewife…why, I’m not sure! Today’s version might be grossly happy and make everyone gag! I’ll think about it…but don’t hold your breath – this one took me 20ish years to post!!

  4. Andrea October 24, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    It is a little grumpy, but in some ways doesn’t every housewife and mom have this experience?

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 24, 2011 at 11:50 am #

      Yes, probably! Perhaps it was my guilt showing through that I didn’t appreciate my mom’s home-canned green beans!

  5. Minnesota Prairie Roots April 25, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    You are, Gretchen, capable of writing poetry as evidenced in this poem. So what if the poem is “grumpy” as several commenters stated. Life if not always happy.

    “Heart sealed against her family’s complaints” is my favorite line.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks, Audrey – the people whoi commented know we well, so they were mostly teasing…so I didn’t take it to heart! And yes, I wanted a sad feeling – she’s doing her duty to her family, even if it’s not very fun. It’s funny that I wrote this long before I was married or a mom, but I can relate to it now from time to time!

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