Friday, April 8, 2011

Short Story: Pie and Poetry in the Garden

 Pie and Poetry in the Garden

She sat in her garden and cried,
A babe in her arms by and by,
Sunflower seeds beginning to sprout,
Pumpkin shoots tender and fine,

“Yoo Hoo, Mary, whatcha doin’ sitting in the middle of your garden?
Writing more of that fancy poetry?  It’s mighty fine, but it’s not gonna put food on your table.”

“Hey there, Violet.  The baby and I are doing okay.  I’m getting a little support from Charlie and I’ve applied for food stamps.  Plus, I just got called for a cashier job at the Pick ‘n Pay.  It’s part-time, but that’s good because I’ll still have time for my writing.”

‘Mary, you know I admire you an’ all, but that poetry ain’t gonna get you out of Nickel, Ohio.  People here wouldn’t even understan’ most of those words you use.  I know I don’t.  If we had more smarts and two nickels to rub together we’d all be outta here.  Those two years away at college put fancy ideas in your head.”

“Violet, give the good folks of Nickel a little credit.  I’m just telling stories through my poems.  Everybody loves a good story.  You’ll see.  One of these days I’ll sell a poem to a big magazine and then I’ll be on my way.”

“You just keep dreamin’.  That’s what I love about you.  Toodle-loo.”

A scent of a rose descends from the gate,
Lilacs burst purple and pink,
Rabbits hop past in the hope of a snack,
A bee searches nectar to drink,

Summer passed, the garden grew, blueberries ripened and flowers bloomed.  Mary’s poetry blossomed as well, written page after page telling stories of her 25 years in Nickel.  She sat in the sun, nursing her wee baby son and dreaming of a day yet to come.  People stopped and chatted and became fans of her poetic flair, discussing it at the diner, gas station, church and even the Pick ‘n Pay.  There was a discernible pride in their homegrown poet.  On August 15th, a sign went up on her fence. 

Pie and Poetry in the Garden,
Friday night - 8:00 p.m.
Bring a lawn chair
Coffee and Fresh Blueberry Pie

Mary wasn’t sure who would show up.  She put flyers around town.  Violet spread the word and Pastor Johnson put it in the bulletin.  Friday came and she waited.  About 7:00 p.m. people began arriving and setting up chairs in her small front yard.  The sun was hot, but a cool breeze was beginning to stir the night.  By 8:00, over one hundred people were gathered for the reading.  Some of the crowd overflowed to the sidewalk, many leaning over the picket fence.  Mary walked to her porch, picked up her notebook and began to read.  Poem after poem she read, concluding with an ode to her hometown.


Small town,
Big heart,
For dreamers, lovers,
Givers and makers
Of homes
For those they love,
Time for those in need,
Care for those who ail,
Respect for those who dream,

You are my home,
 My heart,
The garden of my life,
 Vine from which I cling,
Crop of finest fruit,
Nectar rich and sweet,
You are my people,
You are my home.

Everyone rose and cheered as the last verse ceased to resonate through the crowd.  People came forward to share hugs, praise, congratulations, and to get in line for pie. 

A stranger came forward.  He had been standing outside the gate.  Mary had seen his camera pointed her way a few times during the reading. 

“Love your poetry.  I’m Josh Williams and I’m traveling through northern Ohio doing a series of stories on factory closings and the economy.  I’m with the New York Times.  I would love to do a feature story on you.  Would you be willing?”

Mary smiled and said, “Sure.”  She felt a blossom burst forth from her budding heart as she shook his hand and said, “How about some pie and then we’ll have a little chat?”


  1. Beautiful optimistic story that leaves me considering how many people are pursuing their inner talents and goals more steadfastly than we can imagine. I love the way this story builds slowly and ends with a flourish and much left to unfold. xoxo Judy

  2. Thank you, Judy! I imagine there are countless millions pursuing quiet dreams with great tenacity. It's hopeful to think about. I guess we should just acknowledge that everyone is offering what they can to make the world a little better. xoxo