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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter


These long, hot August days bring back memories of childhood in central NJ. I grew up in a semi-rural area. Our development climbed three hills which were framed by macadam roads top and bottom. My family lived on the lower one which dead-ended in acres of woods. Marshy fields and an orchard stretched behind our house. I fed a cow at the schoolbus stop.

We can't go home again, and that neighborhood has long since changed dramatically---woods and orchard gone, fields filled in with houses. But in this poem I invite you to visit one window on the past and its simpler-seeming days. Lord knows we need them! ____________


Deer prints in the creek mud, rotting apples underfoot in the orchard out back, and the field of marsh grass between the orchard and my yard— its meanders humming with the hot buzz of summer—these were home.

I ran barefoot between the orchard rows where once the farmer’s cows were free to roam and munch, then crouched among the matted weeds, inhaling scents of rank and rancid fruit among the drunken wasps.

Other days I lay down in the valleys my body hollowed in the yellow field— my breasts budding against the bent grass and my warm legs teased by grasshoppers whirring around me.

It was all one then, even the tadpoles wiggling in the creek like quicksilver, the small brown turtles, and the silky gray clay from the creek’s banks that I squeezed through my fingers as my child hands shaped it into everything.

(c) 2018 Penny Harter, in The Resonance Around Us [book available from my website]

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