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Dill Pickles
Susan T. Moss

Cucumbers and dill don’t mean much
unless you’ve had a childhood filled
with Ball jars lining basement shelves
and a grandmother who made
the best pickles every summer.
My brother and I helped,
all hands filling clear vessels
with small dimpled fruit, white vinegar,
coarse salt and fresh herbs
from a local farm stand.
Crisp and savory might capture the first bite
of those yearly treats of green gold,
but this wouldn’t say enough to describe
that moment.
A sharp taste spread over our tongues
and lingered on our lips. Breathing
slowed and nothing else mattered,
not the past nor the reality that this ecstasy
couldn’t last forever.
Grandma has been gone a long time
and so has her recipe. For years
my brother and I have searched grocery stores
for something which might come close
to the indelible taste only she could achieve.
We could try to make our own pickles,
but the possibility quickly shape-shifts
into more than the end product, a thing
beyond our capacity to recreate,
even though we know the basic ingredients.

© by Susan T. Moss.
Used with the author’s permission.


Susan T. Moss lives in Evanston, Illinois, where she is serving her third term as president of the Illinois State Poetry Society. A former high school English teacher, she is the author of  In From the Dark (Antrim House) and Keep Moving 'til the Music Stops (Lily Pool/Swamp Press) and her work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. Friends and family inspire and influence Susan's poetry, as has traveling to all seven continents, hiking Kilimanjaro, skydiving (once!) and attempting to finish her bucket list of adventures. 


Post New Comment:
This memory is brings me back to canning with my gramma, the basement filled with the jellies and jams, the cucumbers, etc. Those times still smell like pickles. Wonderful poem.
Posted 07/24/2015 04:10 PM
Oh, how wonderful is this memory. The yearning for not just the pickles but the tangible past is so present...thank you.
Posted 07/24/2015 10:05 AM
Wish I could have one of those pickles too! My mom used to can cucumbers to make pickles.
Posted 07/24/2015 10:04 AM
I remember those basement shelves!
Posted 07/24/2015 08:30 AM
Janet Leahy:
Wonderful memory piece Susan, the green tinted Ball jars from our family now hold flowers but I too remember the taste of savory pickles.
Posted 07/24/2015 07:37 AM
Glen Sorestad:
I can almost taste that first bite!
Posted 07/24/2015 07:23 AM
Wilda Morris:
Well done! There are moments we just cannot recreate, even if we have the recipe.
Posted 07/24/2015 07:17 AM

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