Saturday, September 01, 2012

Poached plums

No, not a recipe, but a William Carlos Williams poem (This is Just to Say):

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

The family rules are few and simple (see here), but of late we've added one. If you have your eye on something in the 'fridge, put your name on it. This goes for leftover Chinese food, sodas left to chill and the defrosting pasta sauce I have planned to use for dinner. I keep an pad of stickies in a kitchen drawer for the express purpose of labeling the sodas I'm chilling (though not the cold plums, of which I just ate the last).

I ran across this Williams poem yesterday and wondered at what the backstory might be. Were there plums? And if so, who ate them? Was forgiveness required, or as in my house, were plums in the icebox up for grabs? It reminds me of a poem written from Victor's dad to his mother about which way the toilet paper was to be hung.Wikipedia has a rather unappealing analysis of the poem, more useful to desperate high school English students, I imagine, than it is to me. But for more fun, listen to this piece from This American Life on apologies and this poem (starts at about 51 minutes).


  1. Anonymous7:53 PM

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  2. I used to love teaching that poem. Thankfully, wikipedia did not yet exist.

    1. It's a poem with deceptive depths to plumb. Sorry...I couldn't resist. Wikipedia has been good for many of my students (better access to reliable data about molecules, including structure), but a pain for other disciplines, I know!

  3. Mmmmmm.... cold plums, good poetry.

    1. The plum was wonderful, and I got three new books of poetry!

  4. I love that poem, too. I think Williams' poems are deceptively simple, and I like thinking of this one in whatever way my mood dictates. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. Andy, thanks for the reminder that poems are fluid, they don't have to be read the same way each and every time!