Eating Stories

Only when the snow was five-feet deep
and icicles from rooftops
as big as your arm, and the bay frozen,
he realised he hadn’t been paid.

Like all Acadians he knew how to store.
In his larder: frozen vegetables from the garden,
a moose his son shot,
fish he caught during the summer;
lobster, crab, clams and mussels.
In the cupboard; pickles, jams and jellies
by the hand of his wife.
They wouldn’t starve.

He sits there in winter quiet;
his wife dreams of a new coat.
‘You let him get away with it
one more time.’
He’ll pay me next summer.
But he is such a nice man!
‘Silly man, you can’t wear stories.’

Syrup flows from trees into buckets,
boils in cauldrons, hardens on snow
which also weighs down boughs
until chipmunks scurry up maples,
ice flows out to sea.

He takes off the shutters
on the old man’s summer house,
turns on the water mains
checks electricity, cuts the grass
and holds out a hand for his pay.

The old man asks him in
presses a whiskey in his hand
and tells him the stories
stored throughout the winter.

Pay will have to wait for another day.

~ Sandra Bunting

Originally from New Brunswick, Sandra Bunting now makes her home between Montreal and Galway, Ireland, She is co-editor of Crannóg magazine and teaches creative writing at NUI Galway.

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