I'm a poet and writer living in the South Jersey shore area. I moved here from North Jersey in January of 2009 after the 2008 death of my husband William J. (Bill) Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, to be closer to my daughter and family. I'm a mom, grandma, and occasional poet-teacher for the NJSCA. My work has appeared in many journals, and in twenty-some books (including chapbooks). I read at the Dodge Festival in 2010, and have enjoyed two poetry residencies at VCCA (January 2011; March 2015). Please visit my blog: http://penhart.wordpress.com and my website: www.2hweb.net/penhart. My newest books are Recycling Starlight and The Resonance Around Us: http://mountainsandriverspress.org/TitleView.aspx
SOUTH ORANGE SONNETS
The Coal Chute
They rise, these dim and dusty memories—
the coal truck pulling up along the curb
in front of Nana’s house, harsh melody
of gritty bits of black that swiftly poured
down the old truck’s gray chute into a small
cellar window above the wooden bin
that held the winter’s precious hoard of fuel
against the dark. And I can see again
my Grandpa in his bathrobe, standing there
before the open maw of smouldering coal
that needed stoking in that sooty air
before his household woke to winter cold.
And even though there now is no demand,
I’m standing here, coal shovel in my hand.
The ice-man entered through the kitchen door,
his sharp tongs biting hard into a chunk
of blue-green ice, then dropped it in the sink
as sawdust spilled onto the dripping floor.
He hoisted in another piece or two,
then carried them across the room to stack
them in the icebox where a dwindling block
had melted down into a milky stew.
We felt the heat buzz hard against the house
like angry insects beating to get in,
and all the fan blades whirred against the sun
while Nana wiped her forehead on her blouse.
And sometimes I would reach inside to touch
those frozen slabs of lake that came to us.
He came before the dawn, his buggy pulled
by horses clopping down the gas-lit street
where Nana lived. My bed was by the wall
but I’d wake up, remembering the treat
of having jumped up on his running-board,
for sometimes, when he’d come after the sun,
I’d ride along with him. I often heard
him coming from afar, and I would run
to stroke his aging horses as they tossed
their silky tails and tensed sturdy backs.
I still can see the bottles’ milky frost,
feel the sweat that trickled down glass necks--
and now, although my milkman is no more,
I think I hear his horses at my door.
“The Coal Chute,” and “The Milk Man,” first appeared in Exit 13 (May, 2008). “Summer Ice,” first appeared in The Barefoot Muse (2008).
© 2017 Penny Harter
© 2017 Penny Harter
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF