Madame of the Maconnais – A Poem by Katy Santiff

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(Segment of) Grape Harvest – Joaquín Sorolla

Submitted by Katy Santiff

There was a woman in the Maconnais
named Good Madame, Jeanne Ferret. No
fool to the Chardonnay, no green grape growing
servant or witness, she took agency
when her husband died–someone no one missed–
and when not bound by his old agreements,
changed the way we made. He owned ten hectares
in Pouilly-Fuisse, in Vergisson and
on Mont Solutre, and the sum of the
summit, all planted there now, was in her
possession. This was a time, remember, when
the whole of white wine was bulk-blended, then
shipped in potter’s jugs to places strangely
named: Massachusetts, Maryland, island Saints.
She inspected her rows of vines, ordered
bottles for her wines. She laid each down
to spend some time in the chalk caves under
her feet. There was no economy to
deplete, deciding against production,
old concepts of consumption. Now she had
thousands of black glass vessels lining
limestone wells below, and when she and her
torches walked by, they gleamed like a sleeping
bear’s teeth–like a dangerous promise, made
to herself this time: “No man makes this wine.”


About the Poet

Katy Santiff has written poetry in various forms all her life. A fan of meter and rhyme, she loves lines that hypnotize the reader with their sound. She believes in densely-packed poems, preferring them to be mouthfuls when read aloud. A lifelong Marylander, she loves water-side living.  She currently lives in Edgewater, Maryland with her wife.

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