Friday, February 22, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: DESSERT

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit poet-goddess Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup.
For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?
In January I wrote about: apron, bar, basketball, bed, bicycle, birthday, boat, broom, button, cake, car.

Here are February's prompts: chair, chlorine, church, concert, cookbook, couch, dancing, desk, dessert, dining room table, diploma.

When I think of desserts in my childhood I think of my grandparents, and I think of summer: fresh warm watermelons cracked open on the back picnic table, their red or sometimes golden meat attracting birds and ants; peaches off the truck my grandfather hauled from Georgia; homemade ice cream churned in the electric freezer, that grind of salt and ice better music than any ice cream truck ever produced; and strawberry jello mixed with store-bought whipped cream – a special concoction Grandma Dykes always made just for me.
Here it is, in a poem:
A Taste of Summer
warm melons
cracked open
on the back
picnic table,
their red
or golden meat
arousing songbirds
and inviting
black ants
to trail in –
always enough
for everyone
peaches fresh
off the truck
drove all the way
from Georgia,
the scent
of gasoline
and tickle
of sweet-sticky
juice dribbling
down to our elbows
as we would
bite in
the whine
of the electric
ice cream maker
and the slush
of ice and salt
as we waited:
is it ready yet?
strawberry jello
mixed with
in a glass bowl
at the end
of the table,
Grandma saying,
something sweet,
for a sweet girl.
- Irene Latham
This brings to mind "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni, which is also full of rich, summer-y flavors! If I were to title mine after the place of my summers, it would be called "Port St. Joe, Florida." Some may recall that Port St. Joe got slammed by a few months ago by Hurricane Michael I still have family there -- everyone is fine -- and it reminds me again of how very resilient coastal Floridians are. So, if I were to title a poem "Port St. Joe, Florida," it would likely be about many other things besides the summer deliciousness I experienced there. 
Maybe some of this will come up in my responses to future Butterfly Hours prompts later this year?? We shall see. :) 
Thank you for reading!


  1. I am so enjoying following this project, Irene, and my own copy of the book is waiting for me. Today's poem makes my mouth and heart water... xx

  2. Your memories are mine, Irene, the watermelon, peaches & ice cream made in an old freezer. I laugh at the jello memory. Arvie's mother made Nathan what we called 'pink stuff', strawberry jello & whipped cream. Love that "sweet-sticky
    juice dribbling
    down to our elbows". And, I'd love to hear more from Port St. Joe. Also, love the way you presented your poem. It is beautiful.

  3. "that grind of salt and ice better music than any ice cream truck ever produced" -- yes! My granddaddy made some delicious peach ice cream, don't know if I will ever have any like it! What else did your grandparents do with the truckload of peaches? Thank you for this tasty trip down memory lane! xo

  4. Sorry, but I'm drooling all over your blog this morning. Your poem is such a wonderful sensory delight! Mention of fresh peaches and homemade ice cream reminded me of my aunt, who once made a batch of peach ice cream (best I've ever had). And that crack of summer watermelons! Perfection. Love the ending of your poem with grandma's words -- could feel her genuine affection.

  5. Love this! "Fresh, warm watermelons cracked open" reminds me of the church gatherings we used to have. They were called watermelon busts and the purpose was to be together, to visit, and to bust open the watermelons. Happy memories. Loving your project and this poem!

  6. Irene, your memories serve you well as you prepared the picnic table for us with delicious bits to eat. While I did not grow up in the south, A Taste of Summer was always on my Nonnie's table. You had warm melons cracked open on the back picnic table and we had the luscious fruit beautifully carved for a heated summer day treat. When I think of my childhood, I always visualize my Nonnie's dining room table and the multiple foods parading in from her aromatic kitchen. Chicken soup and fried meatball sticks came in first (or should I say that many of the meatballs did not make it out of the kitchen). The pot of pasta sauce filled the air with the scent of fresh basil and invited us all to drool before that course ever made it out. The ending result to a family meal was a full belly and a yen for Nonnie's cookies. YUM!

  7. Took me right back to my own sticky-sweet memories of summer... thank you for sharing, Irene. What a rich adventure you're on! XO

  8. I declare this poem delicious! What's great is that YOUR poem became my poem too as so many of those memories are ones that I recall. I love that about your poems....they are yours but I feel like they are mine too. Magic.

  9. What a mouth watering juicy poem and memories Irene, yum–I'm right in there tasting them all–and that watermelon looks awfully good too! I also remember hearing from a relative,
    "something sweet,
    for a sweet girl."
    I'm ready for all, bring it on… Thanks Irene, xo

  10. Aren't grandmothers the best? Your sweet memories are such treasures. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  11. Yum! My childhood dessert memories include walking to the DQ for a butterscotch dip cone or a lime Mister Misty, grapes and nectarines as swim meet treats, and handfuls of salty peanuts and sweet M&Ms for our Saturday night family TV nights.


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