Tromping through the sugar bush,
you reach the sugar shack,
where maple vapors, sugar-sweet,
seep out from every crack.
Within, your uncles, bleary-eyed,
are chatting man to man,
their fingers scorched from siphoning
hot sap from pan to pan.
On seeing you, they place a pail
and let the nectar flow
to fill the metal bucket
with an earthy amber glow.
A tea towel tops it to protect
the priceless stuff inside.
You’ve reached the age: you take the pail,
and try to almost glide
as carefully, so carefully
you tread the houseward way:
a muddy trail where last night’s snow
melts into slush today.
400 meters, give or take.
It never felt so long.
Too slow, and things will get too cold;
too fast, with one foot wrong
you’ll spill a hundred dollars’ worth
of syrup in the slurry
of almost-springtime forest muck.
So, gingerly you hurry,
and reach the door, then up the stairs,
to Nana in the kitchen
beside her boiling pots, who pours
your syrup, pure and rich, in.
The house is bright and rowdy, filled
with more than it can hold.
You’ll let the syrup cool a bit,
then bottle liquid gold.
by Coleman Glenn
Editor’s Note: This poem’s effortless rhyme tells the story of childhood sweetness with an innocence and joy every reader can appreciate.