Corn Chowder

Someone asked me for this in April when I wrote the meatloaf poem, but I couldn’t find it. Now, following a, well, not a flood, but significant water damage in my basement following the nearby tornado last weekend, a silver lining is that I have located draft copies of a few of my early poetry collections, on paper, smelling rather of mildew, slightly crinkled from mild water damage, but readable! Before I lose them again, I am going to try to archive a few each week here for a while, until I catch up. I’ve lost all my electronic copies, so feeling a reprieve. However, remember these are REALLY old, and I was much younger! Who knows – maybe they were better off lost.


Each cob in June is a small sweet spear —
leaves as soft as peach fuzz,
green and unbearded —
then August comes with each cob swollen
in its sheath. The rough leaves
grab back at my hands as I strip
them away. I yank the beards off,
search out each strand of silk
back to each one’s root in the seed.

Cob after cob after cob is added to the heap.
My hands are sticky with juice and hair
and dirty from the newsprint tablecloth.
I pick up the shortest sharpest knife,
push it down and away, watch
the kernels spill from the cob,
the sweet sticky milk spurt as the knife
passes thru each seed, milk running
down the sides of my hands.

Daughter, when I fed you as an infant,
sometimes you snapped your head away
and my breasts would spurt milk sweeter than corns’.
Sometimes we were separated. Then I would squeeze
milk from my breasts like water from
a stone (my breasts hard as rocks and heavy
as a cob breaking loose of the stalk
without a hand to help it,
its own weight pulling it free).

You, seed of my body, have broken
free so many times already, so many
yet to come. For now, I must be content
to feed you what I have — corn
and cream for calm and riches,
onion for the tears I do not shed,
and potatoes for the earth
we all rise from, we all fall to.

– PF Anderson, written sometime between 1984 and 1988.


2 responses to “Corn Chowder

  1. I like this poem (spent many summers on a Nebraska farm). Corn is summer. Milk as a connection to mother earth. The inevitable separation of mother and child. The gifts you keep giving the child even after the departure. Very nice.

  2. Thanks! With my old poems, I have a certain distance from them, and tend to feel a little uncertain of them, but in a less immediate and personal way than the uncertainty of poems I’ve just written. LOL! I guess I’m just not sure if I like my own poems!

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