Costly Harvest
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“Costly Harvest,” Ensign, Mar. 1978, 47

Costly Harvest

Third Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest

Sweet peas like jade beads bounce into the bowl,

Guarded close against theft before freezing.

Bottled cherries glow like rubies in the cellar,

Set among quarts of amber apricots.

I blanch broccoli and beans into emeralds

Then freeze them in cellophane-wrapped ingots.

Pine shelves bend slightly under weight of gold:

Peach bullion, corn nuggets, carrot coins.

Pints of tomato sauce bejewel my vault,

And purple beets gather momentary light

As I check opaline sauerkraut fermenting under glass.

My kitchen sends clouds of incense out open windows:

Vinegar, bay, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice, and dill

For jadite pickles, sweet and sour.

Mustard pickles gleam topaz beside zucchini relish.

Pressure processed and pristine, pureed pumpkin

Bumps crystal shoulders with jet jars of grape juice.

Tapping the gold crown of each raspberry-rhubarb gem,

I set it between diadems of peach chutney and Potawatomi jelly.

The mellow odor of drying prunes follows the fragrance

Of peaches and pears from the dryer. With miserly gloat

I sift and turn dried apricot doubloons.

I carpet the driveway deep with curing potatoes

And bulge burlap bags with carrots and onions.

Troves of red and gold apples not sauced or sliced

Dehydrate to precious chips of ivory

Or are buried in chests secure against frost.

I add up my columns of banked sunshine on deposit

And inventory diamonds crowded into the freezer.

Envy me, Aladdin, my treasure!

I sold all I had to obtain these full coffers.

And now I need winter

Lest a sudden audit catch me

With mind, heart, and soul


Photography by Kevin Merrell