This week’s poem, Anne Witty’s “Wild Beach Plums,” looks to a September ritual that remains timeless for the speaker despite the passage of time. I love this poem’s rich appeals to season, memory and the senses – the hard and “purple-red” plums, the jam that is “garnet-colored” and “bittersweet as summer’s end.”

Witty’s work as a museum curator has always been interdisciplinary and intersectional, focused on maritime culture and history. Her poetry and nonfiction also explore the coast’s liminal places as well as the personal sphere of family history. Her poetry has appeared in journals including The New Guard (where her poem “Contact Sheets” won the Knightville Poetry contest), Cabildo Quarterly and The Catch: Writings from Downeast Maine. She writes, gardens and sails in the Midcoast.

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, LGBTQ+ writers, and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.

Wild Beach Plums
By Anne Witty

I’ll take Mom down to Maidstone—
we’ll gather beach plums ripened purple-red,
the size of thumbnails and hard enough

to ping as they land inside the bucket.
There’s no temptation to taste
their sour flesh; we take them home

to simmer into garnet-colored jam,
bittersweet as summer’s end.
Each year we pick this useful fruit

that no one else will harvest —
our family’s long-held secret wealth.
And we glean September’s quickened air

out on the dunes where the plums
grow thicket-wild. But mostly I crave
the ritual of picking with my mother,

as if nothing here has changed: as if
the beach remains wild and lonely,
and he’ll be waiting at home with

the canning gear and that delighted smile.
As if she really doesn’t need that cane,
or any small reminder of why we’re here today.

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. “Wild Beach Plums,” copyright 2023 by Anne Witty, 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

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