Putting up Plums
by Karen Bingham Pape

I tend the whitewood homeplace
as if you’ve stepped out,
leaving your narrow-brimmed hat
on the claw hook beside the door.

The scent of sweet crepe myrtle
fills the air as I tamp
black clay around the marigolds.
I squint into the three o’clock sun,
wondering if your purple plums
have ripened early. You loved
the taste of jam on my warm biscuits.

The Buick I never learned to drive
sits forlorn in the carport.
The swing in the oak that towers
by the house is still--
and empty of our grandchildren’s

I’ll call them tomorrow.

Tonight, I’ll put up plums in
sterile jars.

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