Poetry Friday, July 12. 2019

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by poet, Jone Rush MacCulloch at Deowriter. Go and have a look at the fabulous poetry fortune generator she received and make sure to check out the links to other participants sharing poetry today.

I am still working on poems from 1958, when my family joined other relatives on an adventure into the Pine Valley region in Northern British Columbia. I'm committed to sharing a bit every week to keep me going. They might not be in any kind of order. I just hope to get some kind of drafts out there. I appreciate feedback on the construction of the poetry and ideas and questions about what information might be missing.

I've got four or five more sections left I think. Then I expect I'll go back and rewrite all of it.


In summer
formal baths
were unheard of.
Getting cleaned up was
as simple as
sudsing and
splashing in the river.

A basin of soapy water
was always on hand
for quick cleanups,
washing hands before meals,
and removing the worst of the dirt
before bed.

With the onset of fall,
the weather turned cold,
the river colder.

We got bathed
'bout once a week.

Water was hauled up,
heated on the stove
and poured into
a galvanized square washtub.

Everyone in the family
bathed in the same water.
The baby went first,
then us kids got our turn.

One evening
I was lucky enough to
be second in line.

Mommy washed my hair
and made sure
the rest of me was
scrubbed up good
before wrapping me in a towel
to dry off.

Even with the wood stove blazing,
It was still frigid in the kitchen.

The towel covered my
shoulders and torso,
but that’s all.

Hugging it around me,
I backed up towards
the heat,
wanting to
warm my backside.

Be careful,
My mother warned.

Ignoring her,
I edged my rear
nearer to the warmth,
I backed my bottom
right up against
fiery hot cast iron.


Seared the skin right off.

Hurt like the devil.

But I don’t actually
remember that part,
only mortification.

I suppose I am left with a scar,
but luckily,
it's all behind me.


  1. Ha, what an ending! The narrator reminds me of some pets I've had, who like to get as close to warmth as possible (short of searing off skin/fur).

    1. Thanks Tabatha. I think when we are that young we are really still 'pets.'

  2. Ha! I mean ouch! Oh, my gosh what a great story. I have a question for you...it's related to my own project. How did you decide on punctuation for your poems? I see in this poem you use punctuation as one would in prose. I've seen in other places that the end of a line serves as a pause which could be an end of a sentence...or an end of a thought. I'd love to know what you think about this.

    1. I wish I could tell you that I have a reason for how I am punctuating these. I didn't use much punctuation in my earlier poems from this series. I'm considering all of them to be drafts that I will rework once I have a roughish collection of them all. Here is the first without periods. https://dickenslibrary.blogspot.com/2019/04/poem-day-challenge-poetry-friday-april.html

  3. Wonderful ending, Cheriee. One set of my grandparents whom I visited for about a month in the summer had only cold running water, clearly a good thing compared to your hauling from the river, but the water too was heated on the wood stove & I bathed in the tub, usually Tuesdays because we went to town on Wednesdays. I never got burned, but did get close enough to remember the warnings. I love this, love the early explanations & all the details.

    1. Thanks Linda. I asked my brother, James, to read this one for me before I posted, and he suggested this ending from my original, I never notice it.

  4. "it's all behind me" ! Perfect ending. I can feel/hear/see that hiss... thank you, and this feels like such a meaningful, important project... keep going!

    1. Thanks Irene. This ending is on the advice of my brother who I think I will ask to review all my work before posting!

  5. That ending is fabulous--it's all behind me. You bring bath night to life with such vividness. I found myself wincing as she backed closer and closer. I am enjoying this series so much

    1. Thanks Kay! I appreciate all the positive comments from all of you established poets!

  6. Another great addition to this project!

  7. Cheriee, that is some scary story for a little girl. I have a print from the early 1900s that shows two little girls standing in front of the fireplace warming themselves after a bath. It is so precious but I can't imagine being burned on the behind. As I have said before, I really like how your story is unfolding and giving us such insight into lumbering life.

  8. Yup. You nailed that ending!

  9. Your ending is terrific. The poem reminds me a bit of a Laura Ingalls Wilder chapter unfolding–I love this one Cheriee!

  10. Ouch! I can imagine having fallen once into a wood stove.

    1. That sounds just nasty. Luckily, while I remember the event, pain is not part of the memory!