My poems are in jars
I keep saying
I’m going to do another kind of writing
The kind that involves stanzas and tropes
But then the strawberries come in at Howards’.
In the silken sunrise
One picker’s pink sweats, another’s shirt
And the ripening berries
Stand out like traffic lights.
The sweet smell in the truck cab
Mimics a junior high afternoon
Picking berries at the Hontzes’
Hoping one of their sons would
Pick up on my princess-ness
From inside their house.
Half a century later
The fruit at a roiling boil
Concentrates a lifetime
Turning my face to the sun
From men and boys.
OK, Proust’s madeleine swallowed and the crumbs dusted from the counter. The actual recipe goes like this: 4 cups smashed (perfect) strawberries, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice and 3 cups sugar. While you sterilize jars, lids, rings and other utensils, stir ingredients together over low heat. Raise the heat, stirring often, and using a candy thermometer, keep mixture at a strong boil until temperature reaches 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ladle jam into hot half-pint jars, leaving ¼- to ½-inch headroom. Stir with sterilized knife to remove any air bubbles, and put on lids and rings, turning rings until they’re about ½- to ¾-tightened. Process in hot-water bath for 20 minutes. Using tongs, remove jars to several layers of towels on counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. After that, check seals and re-tighten rings. Makes about 5 half-pints, plus a little leftover to enjoy immediately. Allow canned preserves to mellow for a couple of months.