Susanna Salk


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Stolen Plums
Saturday, May 5th, 2018

This is just to say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox…” I thought of that wonderful William Carlos Williams poem as I trespassed onto someone’s boat house property this afternoon. I’ve passed it dozens of times over the years: either by boat, car, bike or foot. I always admired its patrician stance on the water: large yet unaltered despite the recent flurry of gussied up structures now the majority. To me it still stands as queen. Today I meant to pass it as I always do and yet for some reason as I neared it, the poem came into my head. Beckoned me to slow down…stop and consider its possibilities. And like opening the refriderator door, I opened the gate (actually jumped over its unimposing low posts) and went down the old stone steps to finally have a taste. Like a house being empty and free of witnesses, so too was the lake deserted this time of year. In a matter of days the abandoned nature of the boathouse would bloom with summer traffic and visitors, the gate opened dozens of times a day by its actual owners. But for a few minutes, it was mine to love. And I how I loved this family just by the clues they left unknowingly everywhere. I peered past a Wacky Pack sticker placed on a window to see inside: what glory! Old college flags hung down from the ceiling, above fantastic high backed wicker chairs; license plates hung next to a President Ford 76 bumper sticker… a sign saying Cuba was near I ❤️ NY. A generous stone fireplace didn’t need a fussy log basket or an arranged mantle: it knew its role. A small unplugged white refrigerator with a magnetic bottle opener clamped to its side felt as familiar as a favorite cousin. Like every great poem, the room felt instantly recognizable to me even though I was a stranger. How I longed to open the doors and witness every decade as it had so generously hosted the family, for better for worse, along the thread of its life. There was nothing special about this room and yet, like a perfectly fresh, cold plum, it was remarkable.