Deep Water: “Dry beans”, by Alice Haines

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This week’s poem, “Dry Beans,” by Alice Haines, celebrates the harvest. I love the speaker’s rich and tactile description of both the harvest and the colorful beans, and I love the grace she finds in how her harvest lasts.

Haines’ poems have appeared in Off the Coast, Northern New England Review, The Healing Muse, and Touchstone Literary Magazine. She works in downtown Lewiston and lives on an 1820s farm with her husband. She enjoys birding, exploring and caring for native plants.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open until the end of the year. Deep Water is especially keen to share poems from black writers, writers of color, Indigenous writers, and other under-represented voices. You will find a link to submit in the credits below.

Dried beans

By Alice Haines

We trod the pods with satisfying crunches,

beat them by the rods against the inside

from a can, beans coming out of their pods.

Then up the windy hill, we dragged them, tossing

and winnow the straw that flew to the sky

and fields silent as the dust of scattering ghosts.

Sorted by type they sparkled cranberry, silky

white or black purple, speckled crimson,

or marked with tiny sunsets or standing soldiers.

We feasted on their intoxicating

similarity – plunge our hands into every sweetness,

and giving in the mace felt like a perfect childhood.

Beans escaping, rolling and jumping like

they were scattered by their own magnificent will,

slipped under the chairs or in the heated grill.

But most were shining through the pantry jars all winter

never rots, unlike fertile squash

or bad apples, which last like God himself.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Dry beans,” copyright © 2021 by Alice Haines, appears with permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, visit mainewriters.org/deep-water.


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