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Words To Savor At The Close Of National Poetry Month

tea and toast

As the annual celebration of poetry comes to an end, we’re pleased to share two poems from Mimi Herman, the North Carolina 2017 Piedmont Laureate in Poetry.

High Tea

The second time we dine at the Savoy,

I wear the clothes that make my father think

I am his daughter, and perhaps the boy

He thought he’d raised will have Earl Grey to drink.

The lipstick and the stockings and the heels

Disorient my father over scones

And salmon sandwiches, and so he tells

Me of the time when he was four, alone,

And wading through the creek in his back yard

In mud and joy, a boy against the tide,

How ever since that day he feels the scar:

His mother in her fear whisked him inside.

The tea grows cold inside our fragile cups.

We dine on the sad crumbs of growing up.

*  *  * 


In the refrigerator door sits the yeast,

Bottle darkened to forestall quickening.

It wants to be born.  The nature of the beast

Is to bubble into life, then, thickening,
To reproduce and reproduce again.

Like an embryo, it grows by doubling.
The bread bowl curves, a womb the dough grows in

To keep it safe.  The world is troubling,

But yeast when it grows up wants to be bread.

Its adolescence is the awkward dough,

Which flinches when it’s pinched, and ducks its head,

Inclined to burrow back into the bowl.

And when it’s aged, it grows a harder crust.

Yeast quickens, thickens, hardens.  Then it’s dust.

“High Tea” appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of Carolina Quarterly. “Yeast” appeared in Herman’s chapbook, Logophilia, published by Main Street Rag in 2012. Visit Mimi Herman at www.mimiherman.com or www.writeaways.com.