Friday, March 22, 2013

Corn Crib Summer


A couple of days ago I came across this poem by Tom Hennen and knew I'd want to share it with you. I love this man's poems. They call up my own midwestern life - the experiences I had and continue to have. When I was young, my grandfather, Moses, raised sheep and I would often help move them to summer pasture so this poem evokes especially fine memories for me. Following it, is a micro-poem I recently wrote about my own corn crib summer. It's wonderful how life so often dovetails ideas, enriching them even further.


"Soaking Up Sun"

Today there is the kind of sunshine old men love, the kind of day when my grandfather would sit on the south side of the wooden corncrib where the sunlight warmed slowly all through the day like a wood stove. One after another dry leaves fell. No painful memories came. Everything was lit by a halo of light. The cornstalks glinted bright as pieces of glass. From the fields and cottonwood grove came the damp smell of mushrooms, of things going back to earth. I sat with my grandfather then. Sheep came up to us as we sat there, oily wool so warm to my fingers, like a strange and magic snow. My grandfather whittled sweet smelling apple sticks just to get at the scent. His thumb had a permanent groove in it where the back of the knife blade rested. He let me listen to the wind, the wild geese, the soft dialect of sheep, while his own silence taught me every secret thing he knew.”

~ Tom Hennen



And, my micropoem:

corn crib summer ...
floorboards lit by ribbons of sunlight
dried husks under foot
I climbed slatted walls
lay beneath the eaves




Photograph courtesy of Barbara at: folkwaysnotebook.blogspot.com and picayunephotos.blogspot.com
Thank you, Barbara, for allowing me to use your photograph to illustrate my post.

30 comments:

  1. Teresa -- Tom Hennen's words remind me of my father. He taught me to enjoy the stillness of life -- to be an observer especially of nature. And your micro-poem reflects sounds of a youthful meditation in a special private place. Very good post -- barbara

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    1. Hi Barbara, Having someone who taught us to "enjoy the stillness of life - to be an observer of nature," was one of the best gifts ever, wasn't it?

      Thank you, and I so appreciate the use of your photo.

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  2. My Aim Is To Find That Stillness! Another grand post Teresa.& thanks for the 2 links.......more for my Memory Bank !

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    1. Hi Tony! Thanks! Yes, must add to the old memory bank. :)

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  3. Both Hennen's quote and your "micro" poem are lovely. Reminds me of my summers spent on my great uncle's farm in the Napa Valley. I now look back and hold these memories like a gift.
    I too remember"floorboards lit by ribbons of sunlight" in the old barn and learning to be silent, in the moment, with another human. His voice and his silence is still there, inside of me. And the memories... as we walked out to feed the chickens and picked apples from a tree, eating pieces cut with his well used knife, as he called his cats to come eat in Italian... are with me to this day.
    Our childhoods were gifts that make us who we are. How lucky we were.It is truly the "light" that we remember the most.

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    1. They sound wonderful! We were, indeed, very lucky. Yes, the light. Thank you for your lovely comment.

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  4. I love the poems. In this part of Montana, corn cribs are practically non-existant, but hay sheds take their place. And hay mows in the barns.

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    1. Where I grew up we had all of these, depending on the size of the farm. Haymows are wonderful places.

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  5. Dear Teresa, I wanted you to know that a poem you shared with us several weeks ago became part of the funeral Mass for a dear friend of mine who died last Saturday in Richfield. I had copied the poem from your site and sent it to him and his wife when you posted it. Or at least I think it came from your site. It was Maya Angelou's "When Great Trees Fall." He touched all our lives only with goodness and gentleness. I am grateful that he chose me for a friend. And I am grateful to you for posting that poem. Peace.

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    1. Dear Dee, I am sorry for the loss of your friend and moved by the inclusion of that poem by Ms. Angelou. Yes, I had posted it and also recorded it on Soundcloud. It's a wonderful way to pay tribute to a person's life. Thank you for telling me about this.

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  6. You have called back so many wonderful memories for me with this. A corn crib. A whittling knife. Climbing slatted walls. The silent teaching of a grandfather. The kind of sunshine old men love.

    (Deep sigh, followed by misty smile)

    Thanks....

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    1. I'm glad, Bill. Corn cribs offer us some pretty wonderful memories, don't they?

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  7. Oh, this is such a wonderful, wonderful post, dear Teresa; both Tom Hennen's words, and your own. I can almost smell the moments, and hear the "the soft dialect of sheep". Ah, the lessons we learn in the silence. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Thank you, Penny, I'm so glad you liked it. I love that line about the soft dialect of sheep, too. I hope you've had a good Sunday.

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    2. I agree with Penny. The Tom Hennen piece is elegance.

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    3. Hi"Doc," thanks for responding...

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  8. A wonderful poem that seems to remind us that memory can be stimulated by ever sense and the past can so easily be conjured up by a perfect selection of words.

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    1. Yes, a "perfect selection of words," certainly can conjure the past, much like photograph. :)

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  9. love that last line, sometimes silence is so golden and so telling in a peaceful sort of way

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    1. It is ... such beauty and understanding found there...

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  10. A beautifully written recollection here. The groove in the thumb is something I'm familiar with. This is poetry in motion. So rich and so inviting.

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    1. It's a very inviting poem, isn't it, Bill? Whittling is almost a lost art :(

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  11. I can smell the summer smells coming from the poems, , dry, dusty, fragrant. The way summers were and aren’t any longer. Does anyoe still take the time to sit and listen to nature?

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    1. There once was a very distinctive group of smells belonging to summer and, I, too mourn the loss of them... I listen daily, but I do wonder how many take the time to be present to their surroundings, no matter where. We are all so very distracted by all the shiny things...

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  12. I've come back to this post a few times because although I could see it was lovely, I simply didn't understand it and was yearning to. Never heard the term before. Tonight it occurred to me to look up Corn Crib Summer on Wikipedia and now it all makes perfect sense :)
    "Sheep came up to us as we sat there..." Does that ring true to you from your times helping your grandfather? The sheep I've encountered in Britain when hiking have all been very timid indeed. Maybe it's different if you raise them.
    I like the pared down to the bone précis feel of your micro poem very much, it echoes the wisps of memory beautifully.

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    1. Jill, I'm so glad you took the time to inquire about them further. The sheep could be very tolerant and then not so... but I was often among them as a child and can still feel the wool...

      And I like your description of my poem... thank you so very much.

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  13. Tom Hennen's poem, carries the voice from the past with distinct choice of words. Powerful expression of a past which now lies between the grooves of grey matter.

    His thumb had a permanent groove in it where the back of the knife blade rested....this phrase carved out a routine experience dynamically.

    Your micro poem brought about a strong visual impact on me. I could see the whole scene described, within my mind's eye. Nice poem. I wish there is a little addition to satisfy my olfactory perception as well, especially that of the dried husks.:)

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    1. Thank you so much for these wonderful remarks. You often speak very poetically yourself... With Twitter and the limitation of 140 characters, a choice sometimes has to be made,and smell lost out to sight and sound. :)

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  14. Most of your writing, brings into me a sense of being distantly one with something that I long longed for, yet at the same time a mesmerizing closeness with that. Though we are part of this eternal journey, we have compartmentalized time to facilitate our planning and to live our day to day life. But, whenever I read your works, I always feel a deep pleasurable silence with stills me momentarily, as if Mother Nature is connecting me with an ancient world beyond my imagination. And, I am not on any mind altering stuff:)

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    1. What a stunningly beautiful comment. I'm so happy to hear of your response to my writing. What pleasure writing brings to me, and your response is beyond gratifying. Nature alone can alter our perceptions quite well, can't she? :)

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