Pete Grover, West Windsor, NJ, 1921-2009

Each year, when green, withering vines

released their giant fruits,

she drove the dirt road to Mr. Grover’s farm

with chatty, bouncing daughters in the back seat.

They sought lanterns for carving,

one wanted a long face,

the other searched for a rounder, less menacing form.

She took photos — rosy cheeks, flying scarves,

bright, jacketed arms lugging precious pumpkins.

They filled the trunk, brought their loot for reckoning.

Mr. Grover rose slowly from his weathered throne,

appraised pumpkins and earnest eyes to announce

his modest take. Here greed came at an affordable price.

Even after her daughters left home,

her craving for these earthy treasures continued.

She marveled at the growing games,

pumpkins in varied shapes and sizes,

the motley gourds with their furrows, warts, and twists.

In one dry season, her new car was baptized by dust.

In a wet season, her car wheels swallowed by mud,

the farmer and his tractor required to recover them.

She asked Mr. Grover if he only had to rescue

women. His wry, twinkled answer, “No.”

Now, the farm across from the school grows

alfalfa and hay. Each fall she buys her pumpkins

elsewhere, her thoughts with Mr. Grover.

And the town’s middle school built in view of his field,

named after his son, Thomas Grover,

a purple hearted hero, dead in Vietnam,

who never had time to ripen.

Elane Gutterman, a health researcher, is a founding board member and current literary committee chair of the West Windsor Arts Council. Her poems have been published in the Kelsey Review, Patterson Literary Review, and the 2015 U.S. 1 Summer Fiction Issue. She lives with her husband in West Windsor.

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