Food -- the sight and smell of it -- is a powerful trigger for memory. The aroma of a freshly-baked pie, for example, can take us back decades to when we were children in our mother's kitchen.
Perhaps this is why so many poets write about food. A quick search takes you to PoetrySoup.com where you'll find a hundred poems about everything from watermelon to cheesecake. Another search lands on Susan Porterfield's book Kibbe -- the title poem to her 2012 collection, named after a Middle Eastern dish.
So when WNIJ asked Porterfield to judge our Mother's Day Poetry Contest, we knew she'd be on the lookout for a poem about food. One, "Mom's Blueberry Pie," caught her attention:
Many poems were submitted about the cooking skills of the mother or about a mother’s special recipe or dish, but “Mom’s Blueberry Pie” stood out for me, because—I must confess—it made me hungry for pie. The kinds of pies named are intriguing, “mincemeat,” and ‘Vidalia onion torte” and roasted rhubarb. They seemed domestic, a kind of pie that one would indeed concoct from produce harvested from one’s own garden, and thus I felt the poem made a connection between mother and family and home and food.
But I also confess that the rhyme scheme and tone of the poem amused me. I mean, who wouldn’t love the paring of the words “savory” with “blueberry” or the punch of “et” with “yet”? And, for that matter, who doesn’t love pie?
The poem is by Darsha Primich of DeKalb. Porterfield selected this and four others to be read on WNIJ. We include the text below this video of Primich reading her work.
Mom’s Blueberry Pie
Our Mother had a favorite love-hate sore
Called “kitchen” that included feeling pressed
To pie gourmand and claim it not a chore
When fruits were ripe and vines well-dressed.
Mincemeat, Vidalia onion torte, savory
Lemon soufflé, roasted rhubarb, Mom’s tart
Revealed. But it was her best – blueberry
That blessed our tongues and stained our hungry hearts.
Dear Mother’s gone now to her great reward
Where not one blackbird sings a sixpence song.
No red-tipped rolling pin, no flour board.
No sweet-eyed pie with perfect lattice. Gone
Away, away as fast as could be et.
And blue our satisfaction unmatched yet.
Listen for our final winning poem Friday during Morning Edition at 6:45 and 8:45. Then come back here for a video of the reading, plus Porterfield's remarks.
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