Cherries in Winter
by Claudette Mork Sigg
When the fruit came in, my mother went on binges.
She spent the night canning, naked,
in the bright hot kitchen working over the stove.
In the morning she emerged, sanctified
by her love affair with carnelian cherries,
spiced pears, apricots intoxicated in their own scent.
The kitchen clean, she stood in front of rows
of shining glass jars waiting
to be carried down to the basement.
When winter edged the lawns with frost, she filled
our bowls with fat cherries, topped them with cream,
watched us eat. We didn’t know then that each night
she opened a jar, ate a sample, and if she survived
the next day, rationed out to us what she had preserved
so carefully through the long hot nights of summer.