a new poem from penny harter

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” ~ from an Irish headstone

I was so pleased to hear from New Jersey poet Penny Harter recently, who sent along a new food poem she had just written.

You may remember when we featured Penny’s “Moon-Seeking Soup,” “Your Grandmother’s Whisk,” and “One Bowl,” all referencing her late husband, esteemed poet, translator, and haiku scholar William J. Higginson. With these poems, we saw a poet moving through various stages of grief, as words facilitated emotional release and healing.

As those of us who have lost loved ones well know, one really never stops grieving. We instead find a way to live with loss. Penny’s poignant poem reminds us that as time passes, we move on, but the heart, ever tender and hopeful, never forgets.

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MARMALADE

Sitting in our regular booth in the Prestige Diner,
often on our way home from some poetry event
or other, you always ordered eggs over-easy
and whole wheat toast, but we could never find
those little plastic packets of orange marmalade
in the small square dish by the napkin holder.

Now that you’re dead, do you still love marmalade?

Before we knew you were sick, we were driving
through a spring landscape, branches blossoming
white, sweet and easy miles disappearing beneath
our quiet tires, when suddenly you said,
I can’t imagine all this going on without me!

How fluently the names forsythia, red maple
flowed from our tongues that day, the engine
of our life together well-tuned and fuel efficient.
How can it be eight years since you drove alone
over the horizon? Yet I, too, have moved on,
weathered lonely nights, betrayals of my own body.

There is still marmalade, the sticky jar on my shelf
almost empty. I spread it thickly on this morning’s
whole wheat toast, and its bitter sugar lingers
on my aging tongue. Dearest, wherever you are,
know the heart makes room for other loves, although
I love you still, and I wish you marmalade on toast.

~ Copyright © 2017 Penny Harter. All rights reserved.

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Penny: I just wrote “Marmalade” over MLK weekend while at Peter Murphy’s annual Poetry and Prose Getaway. We were given a model poem as a prompt and it had the word ‘marmalade’ in it. Suddenly the diner memory surfaced, and I was off and running with it. Then I benefited from work-shopping it in a small critique group. Funny what one word can prompt if the grove is ripe!

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Please Look After Michael Bond on His 90th Birthday. Thank You.

via The Sunday Times

HOLY MARMALADE!

The one and only Michael Bond is 90 years old today!

All of us here at Alphabet Soup — especially the 50-something resident Paddingtons — are in a full out tizzy of joy. We’ve been rereading the stories, noshing on marmalade sandwiches, sloshing about in our wellies, and ever-so-politely tipping our bush hats to honor the man who gave us our beloved bear from Darkest Peru some 57 years ago.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rescuing a lone bear from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve says a lot about a man. This small kindhearted gesture would prove to be delightfully fortuitous, spawning a bear chapter book written in just 10 days, 25 more published novels, numerous picture books, board books, an avalanche of Paddington-related toys and other merchandise, several television series, a play, and an award-winning motion picture. Paddington’s likeness has appeared on postage stamps and marmalade jars, and a Paddington balloon was recently introduced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Paddington as a stop-motion puppet for his FilmFair television series (1975).

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friday feast: the bear in the window and paddington’s bread and butter pudding with marmalade

It’s no secret we’re more than a little mad for Paddington here at Alphabet Soup.

The resident bears were extremely excited about the new movie (have you seen it yet?) and Michael Bond’s latest novel, Love from Paddington. The lovable bear from Darkest Peru is fast winning new fans on this side of the pond, marmalade sales are booming, and plush Paddingtons are flying off the shelves. Yay!

Recently, we happily read about a Paddington Bear who’s been in the same window of a home in Maidstone, Kent (about 35 miles SE of London) since 1970. He was purchased by the Waite family a month after they moved into the house, and has been charming and cheering up passers-by ever since. I can easily imagine myself purposely walking by the Waite house in Sittingbourne Road whenever possible just to catch a glimpse of him. 🙂

Now an adult, Sittingbourne resident Tracey Cooper first saw Paddington when she was six. Through the years he made such an impression on her that she decided to write a poem to thank him and the Waites for the joy they’ve brought to the community. There’s nothing like a beloved bear to warm your heart.

PADDINGTON BEAR — a poem about myself as a child

Bundled into the car again, this girl of six,
Travelling from Lordswood, Chatham (out in the sticks).
Cutting through Boxley and fields stretching wide –
A regular car trip, our “Hospital Ride”.

Turning left at Penenden Heath and heading straight on,
We approach Sittingbourne Road, on the outskirts of Maidstone.
Swinging right at the end, we start to roll down the hill,
Past neat rows of houses with empty window sills.
Then all of a sudden, we look and he’s there-
Standing dutifully in his window, it’s PADDINGTON BEAR!

Dressed in his outfit that is suitable for the day,
Our little furry “weather forecaster” gives up his time to play.
He proudly does his duty with his shoulders pulled back,
Awaiting some eager faces to notice his shorts or plastic Mac.

I can’t help but feel affectionate towards this wee brown bear,
And dread the thought of passing by and finding him not there.
It’s thirty years later, and I am still looking with my Son,
Through a steamed-up car window, (I’m a sentimental mum!)
To find Paddington still standing there, in clothes all shining bright,
Has his jumper now got holes in? Or his Wellingtons feel too tight?
Does he have the same family, with children now all grown?
Is he tied into the deeds so that he will never lose his home?
Has he ever been photographed, his story put to print?
If you find a few minutes would you kindly try to fill me in.

Transferred to Medway Hospital, my trips are more remote,
But I still look out for my old, old friend, with his smile and duffle coat.

~ Copyright © 2010 Tracey Cooper, reposted by permission of Kent Online.

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Naturally Paddington answered Tracey with a little poem:

I watch for my friends

As I look from this place,

So as you pass by

I’ll know your kind face.

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The bear in the window is so well known, that should the Waites ever move, they’ve decided Paddington should remain at his post. You just never know when someone might need to see his friendly furry face. 🙂

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