Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Came to me in Maureen's Writing Class

Maureen Ryan Griffin

Some of my poems, often the ones I like best, come to me in writing classes. A few years ago Maureen Ryan Griffin, author, poet and educator, taught a workshop at Writers Circle around the Table, my studio at my house. The theme of the class was food. We talked, read poems and wrote about food for three hours. What a great time we had. Maureen is such a delightful person and a great teacher. I had classes with her at John C. Campbell Folk School in years past and we have become friends over the years.

I've paid little attention to odes in my own writing, but Maureen asked us to write an ode to a favorite food.

I composed this in class so I didn't have much time to think about it. In my memory of what I used to enjoy and I don't get to eat anymore, I came up with fresh made butter. I buy butter in the grocery store, but it is nothing like homemade butter that my mother made. All the products we buy today have chemicals in them and they have artificial flavorings to fool us into liking them.
I miss the real thing and the memories of eating it came to me in this poem.

The title of the poem I began in the writing class is Ode to Real Butter. Of course over time I have revised and polished it. When the NC Poetry Society 2015 contest for light verse opened I decided to send this poem and see how it would be received. I didn't place, but received an Honorable Mention and the poem has been published in Pinesong an annual anthology of the NC Poetry Society which was founded in 1932. 

ODE TO REAL BUTTER                by Glenda Council Beall

No margarine or simulated spread
can match your taste, dissolving on my tongue,
spread over crisp hard rolls,
seeping into crannies of my English muffins,
melting into morning grits.

When I was a kid, you came like magic,
from milk fresh-squeezed from Jerseys,
skimmed cream, shaken in a quart jar.
Mother sang, come butter, come butter, come
butter come. Papa’s at the gate with a hot pancake.

Mother crooned, churned, and I knew
that soon the soft spread, washed
and salted, would appear in a crock,
would saturate hot biscuits on my plate.

Oh, Butter, you glow in melting glory
on my cornbread, softening my pancakes,
mixing with my sugar-free syrup.

I weep with longing for you, Butter.
You are a star. My taste buds adore you,
like a teenage girl adores that Bieber boy
with his browned - butter hair.

                -------from Pinesong, Awards 2015

I want to mention Pat Daharsh, a reader of this blog, who won first place in the Haiku contest and is published also in Pinesong. Pat has been winning competitions in national and international contests for years. Congratulations, Pat.


DJan said...

I truly enjoyed your Ode to Butter. I love it, too, but I never had the privilege of fresh churned butter. Your ode makes me realize what I've missed. :-)

Glenda C. Beall said...

DJan, I am sorry you never tasted the real fresh churned butter. It had a hint of a sour cream taste, but not much. Mother collected cream off the top of the raw milk brought in from milking the cows twice a day. After a day or two when she had enough, she let the cream sit out on the counter where it came to room temperature. I think it soured a bit also. Then she churned it. I bought some local home made butter once but it was awful tasting. Real Butter is just a memory for me now -- and a poem.

Abbie Taylor said...

I know what you mean about poems coming to you during workshops. Most of my poems were inspired by workshops and my third Thursday poets meetings. I wholeheartedly agree with your ode to butter.