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Rose's Root Cellar
Carol Amato


At the far end of her small kitchen
she lifts the heavy trapdoor and down
we go on the treacherous teeter-totter
stairs to the stank and damp of captured
earth four feet below the frost line.

She feels for the chain
to light the single dim bulb that swings
and jiggles now just bright enough to see
the provenance of her harvest in crocks,
bins, and crates of potatoes, garlic,
onions, apples and squat jelly jars
of sweet preserves strawberries, grapes,
raspberries but best of all blackberries,
gathered by my brown-berry children
from her thorny vines in the dog-days
of summer.

The real wonders to me are her mason jars
in glass-gleaming rows:
pole beans, sliced peppers, pickled beets,
eggplants, cucumber pickles and more:
windows into the freshness of sun-days.

The most cherished of all, her jars
of tomatoes, crushed or diced or pureed
and sprigs of basil to sweeten all, just waiting
to be stewed or made into her famous Sunday
sauce simmering for hours in the pot,
the mellow garlicky aroma wafting across
the street into our open windows.

She chooses from this bounty to gift me,
my thanks as overflowing as her basket.
When joyfully opened, they will dispel
the bleak of winter and bring her back again
bent over rows of tomato vines inspecting
the ones that are at the peak of readiness,
whose sweet juices will drool down our chins
with the first bite.

© by Carol Amato.
Used here with the author’s permission.


Carol Amato says poetry has allowed her to assume many lives—to date, a much-longed-for job as a waitress, a slightly mean-spirited child, an escape artist seeking to find herself, an adventurer soaring with raptors, and more. Carol’s realities include being a language-learning specialist, a natural science educator, and the author of 11 books for Barron’s Educational Series and Backyard Pets, Nature Activities Close to Home, published by John Wiley & Sons. Carol, who lives in Boston and Cape Cod, considers herself fortunate to have both an active imagination and enough reality to survive.


Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
Wonderful! It brings back memories of the shelved room at the back of my grandmother's basement.
Posted 07/21/2023 10:39 AM
What a terrific poem. I love your lists, Carol, And youve brought back such memories of my own gramma, the garden, canning, all the preserves. Thanks so much.
Posted 07/21/2023 12:33 AM
Nostalgia at its vividly descriptive best!
Posted 07/20/2023 10:03 PM
Lori Levy:
Everything sounds so delicious!
Posted 07/20/2023 05:48 PM
the provenance of her harvest, I love it
Posted 07/20/2023 12:50 PM
"Tomato," "Amato," where do the analogies begin and end?!?! This poem is delicious all the way through. I count over a dozen fruits and veggies in this marvelous cellar-tour--reminds me of a similar one in my youth. Well done, Carol.
Posted 07/20/2023 09:47 AM
Posted 07/20/2023 09:00 AM
Angela Hoffman:
This image is amazing!
Posted 07/20/2023 08:22 AM
Larry Schug:
This poem engages all the senses. How luscious and delicious a poem can be!
Posted 07/20/2023 07:45 AM
No trap door at grandma's house but I remember the odd scent of damp from her basement and the same rows of canned vegetables.
Posted 07/20/2023 05:38 AM

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