At Summer’s End
We come upon a bank of beach roses
High above Portsmouth Harbor, rose hips
Unexpectedly signaling the end
Of summer. I stop to take a photograph
Crop tight the crimson ellipsis
Crop tight the leafy green symmetry.
In my memory
The fruit is smaller, rounder
The bushes a low sprawl
Of dusty leaves where sand meets road
Above Hannaford Cove, cold sweat
Of exposed water pipe beneath my bare feet.
From somewhere behind me
My mother says, Aunt Etta
Gathered rose hips to make jelly. Aunt Etta
Was my grandmother’s aunt.
In her memory
My mother is pregnant
The summer Aunt Etta
Comes to stay at the cottage
High above Hannaford Cove.
Through dormered window
She watches bemused
As the small stooped figure
Moves among the dusty bushes
Easing the rose hips off their stems.
In her memory at cliff’s edge
Etta strips rose hips from great sprawls of bushes.
Etta must boil rose hips in blackened woodstove kettle
Boil them thick, strain them clean. Rose hip jelly
Will taste of summer’s end
When the farm is frozen over
And the wind blows unforgiving
Off the Bay of Fundy.
Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. Recent poetry publications include One Sentence Poems, Smoky Quartz, Medical Literary Messenger, The Ekphrastic Review, and Pinyon. Recent fiction publications include Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel Telling Sonny was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Learn more about her work at http://lizgauffreau.com