‘Elastic Bands And Jam Pots’ © Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

‘Elastic Bands And Jam Pots’
© Joe Canning 2016. All Rights Reserved.

A look of contentment dressed my mother’s face.
Her pantry shelves neatly displayed the summer fruits.
A row of jam pots all fallen in like soldiers stood in line.
Hand written labels of identification attached to all.
Black, blue, yellow, red, orange and green savouries;
all cooled and filling every jar to a uniform level.
A platoon of preserves awaiting their annihilation.

Blackcurrant, blueberry, apricot, rhubarb.
Next to them, the Seville and the gooseberry.
Their paper berets fashioned from greaseproof paper;
all well secured by the double twist of an elastic band.
I checked to see if she had washed the saucepans; then
I scraped them clean and licked the wooden spatula.
Home made bread and butter and I was a kid in heaven.

She sat reading, drinking tea, her seasonal task completed.
The next door neighbour arrived and they nattered a while.
Wee Maggie Gallagher, keeper of an orchard, supplied the fruits.
She only had to talk to a tree and it obliged with luxuries.
Ma felt fair exchange was no robbery. They had an understanding.
Maggie never passed a discarded jar and mother was the recipient.
All washed and gleaming they clunked in a well worn hessian bag.

I remember the wasps annoying mum, they did so at their peril.
They had a pathological urge to drown in a water filled trap.
I watched their struggling and then their stillness. Poor things.
I hated that, sure after all, they too were part of the production team.
It didn’t seem fair so I gave them a decent burial. I was about seven.
My mum was a sharer and it was in her nature to be kind. Da too.
History taught them that the needy need not go without.

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