This week’s poem, by Jenny Doughty, brings us into the season of ice, and into a past when ice was precious through the warmer months. I love this poem for its vivid details of the ice harvesters’ work, for the delight it shows ice bringing to warm mouths, and for its sudden turn to the present – and our new understanding of just how precious ice is.

Doughty is British but has lived in Maine since 2002 and is an American citizen. In the U.K., she edited a Penguin anthology of pre-20th-century poetry, “Key Poets,” and wrote children’s non-fiction, short stories and magazine articles under the name Jenny Green. Her book “Sending Bette Davis to the Plumber” was published by Moon Pie Press. She is president of the Maine Poets Society.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, indigenous writers, and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

 

Cold Harvest

By Jenny Doughty

 

Men harvesting white gold wore cleated boots,

sawed that year’s winter into foot-thick blocks

for that day’s dollar, breath steaming round them,

hauled the ice to shore on horse-drawn sleighs

 

to store in straw and sawdust, stacked up neat

in the dark damp ice-house through mud season,

ready to truck along hot August streets,

heave up apartment stairs to ice boxes,

 

boys outside whooping round the cart, juggling

ice chips in slippy hands, sucking dusty

splinters slowly until they bubbled

hollow, crumbled and crunched on the numb tongue.

 

Now we can make winter in our kitchens

ice houses become homes with water views,

but all the while the ice is growing thin

and underneath the water is rising.

 

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Cold Harvest,” copyright © 2019 by Jenny Doughty, appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to mainewriters.org/deep-water.

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