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Today’s poem is “Glukopikron” by Katherine Hagopian Berry. Her work has appeared in the Café Review, Deep Water, A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis, Balancing Act II: An Anthology of Poetry by Fifty Maine Women, Strange Fire: Jewish Voices on the Pandemic, and Enough! Poems of Resistance and Protest. Her first collection of poetry, Mast Year, was published by Littoral Books in 2020. Katherine lives in Bridgton, Maine.
She writes, “‘Glukopikron’ was born when, thanks to an amazing moment in Agnes Bushell’s novel, The House on Perry Street, I was reminded that Sappho used the word 'glukopikron' for bittersweet— in the Greek the actual translation is 'sweet-bitter'— the word arcs into uncertainty. That frame seemed a perfect way to talk about maple syruping and the fear we all carry of endings. While the poem was written in the Spring of 2019, it seems, in retrospect, weirdly prescient. That trick poems have of growing with us and surprising us is part of what I find so endlessly inspiring.”


by Katherine Hagopian Berry

We crawl across the dormant
field to tap our scrawny maples,
log, branch, glove,
bonded by deep freeze

we make heat, electric,
orange cords arterial,
sawdust scattering its barren
seed over clouded ice.

I am too heavy to balance
on thin crusts for long,
so we leave it to our
children who report

each hesitant drop, wait
patiently for hope
to flood taps, shower
the sap hungry earth.

There is sugar enough to test
our faith in loss, black cauldron,
the pan I bought, decades ago,
to heat my feast for one.

The old spell was to bury
your worst fears alive:
that steam bleeding
down the kitchen window

has wedged a hole in things
irreversible.  That this time
it will not become
easier to breathe.

That my boy won’t turn
to your body in the small bed.
Instead we tally production
golden in mason jars,

two, four, six, nineteen, twenty,
How much, enough for next winter?
How much, enough for the end of the world?

Copyright 2020 by Katherine Hagopian Berry. Reprinted from Mast Year (Littoral Books 2020) by permission of the author.