The Putting Up

It was always the hottest night of the year,
August, the end of the raspberry season
when our father filled the kitchen
first with his sterilized jars,
his Lennon glasses steaming at the stove.

Then the berries, the endless stirring, straining,
adjusting consistency, balancing sugar
until the night loosened its grip to purple.

This was the only time he seemed soft,
checking his infant pots, nudging and coaxing.
Blue had already climbed over the black pines
by the time he slunk off to bed.
He labeled each jar with yellow tape,
Opus 1, 2, 3: music for our silent winters.

Amanda Hempel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she currently lives and works for a closed-captioning company. Her poetry is forthcoming in, amongst other places, The Literary Review, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, Red River Review, The Mochila Review, RE:AL, and Stepping Stones Magazine. She received her MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University.