Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Austin Segrest

Every Day Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

There were great chests and small chests,
long boarded and great boarded,
carved and wainscot, chests with a drawer.
A box with bullets, hinges, and other smale things.
Woodware or pewter told all.
Governor Winthrop brought over
the only fork in 1630, in a case.
Knives, spoons, and fingers. Father died
in a bed in the corner
among the chattel of tubs and churns.
Drop cakes sprouted and the wort boiled on,
and above were strung sides of bacon,
apples and seed corn. The ashes were saved
for soap-making, the dreaded spring day’s boil,
a hell of grease. Debatable
whether the floors were sanded,
but like Thoreau’s they were scoured with sand.
The children, the drawers of cider,
the turners of roasts, played with a bird whistle
as life leached out of the bent ones on the settle.
It was a wide ditch between them and old England.
Parlor dirt rained down. The Day of Doom
was leafed clean out of existence.
In the meantime, fashion, slavery, slander.
An ear was cropped. Then the other.

Austin Segrest

is the author of Door to Remain, winner of the 2021 Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry. Born and raised in Alabama, he teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.