Sunday, August 07, 2011

Shelling Peas on the Porch at Dusk

"In many Eastern traditions, the world of nature is considered to be maya, or illusion, while in other Eastern and Global South traditions, nature is mother. Western tradition has often teetered between the assertion that nature is God’s good creation and that it has been “frustrated” by human sin. In more recent times, the world around us has been regarded as the expression of random selection and chance. Explore some aspect of nature (as in the non-human world) and write a short piece (fiction, poem, mini-essay) in which your descriptions reflect and reveal your philosophical understanding of nature..."without actually stating directly what your philosophical position is."

I've thought and thought and could not come up with a new piece of writing for this prompt. I feel like I am cheating in a way, because this is a poem I wrote back in 2002. But on the other hand, if I'd keep my own mouth shut, no one would know that I was "cheating" because I have not shared much of my poetry on this blog!

I am not sure I have met the qualifications of the prompt with this poem, but it is one of the things I thought of as I thought about the prompt. I've written about some aspect of nature, that much I do believe. And maybe, in some ways, my philosophical understanding of nature is revealed. SOMETHING is being revealed, that is for sure (perhaps my poet self?).

Shelling Peas On The Porch At Dusk

Dusky dark, being neither day nor night,
disturbs the child. The breeze holds
its breath and waits for dark to fall,
smothering them in pitch. The grown-ups
shell their peas with quiet abandon.

The symphony of crickets magnifies.
No other noise, save soft voices
of the old folks, telling stories of times passed
and perhaps, the screaming woman
sound of a peacock deep in the woods.

The woman swings on an empty porch
and remembers the little girl who shelled
her peas and listened to these simple sounds.

In the distance a lone coyote wails.


  1. It is a screaming woman sound. Reminds me of the Sandra Cisneros story "Woman Hollering Creek" which got it's name from a creek near my house. Your poem is the way and mystery of women. We should hear more of this.

  2. This gave me chills. Seriously.

    The peacock does sound like a screaming woman. And baby coyotes sound like screaming babies. Spooky.

    Love the feel of this. I can hear the creak of the porch boards while reading it. Good, good, good.

  3. Well, I don't remember this one and I love it. I'm with Rachel it gave me chills too.... It felt like dusk was settling in and the air was hanging low and damp, like being back up in the swamp. Shelling peas because that would be our dinner for the next few nights, peas and rice. Maybe a neckbone for flavor... if we were lucky.... boy you're sure right, it does push that child button....
    Thanks Annie, that was awesome.


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