Have you ever snuck into someone's fridge and made off with something you sorta maybe kinda knew they were saving for a special occasion? I did just that, this evening. Seriously, I had my reasons.

And so, on the occasion of the birthday of a beloved friend (someone I have known and loved since she was nine years old) and in honor of the herb bed I planted as a gift, which she and her beloved will eventually see, and enjoy, I hope...planted in very hot sun, on a very humid day, in very poor soil that needed lots of amending, with no hose connection meaning I had to make many trips in and out of the kitchen with buckets of water (and you can see where this is going)...

I present this poem, with apologies and thanks to that genius of compression, poet and physician, who knew a thing or two about Chief Complaints, William Carlos Williams.  Even as I went rifling through drawers in search of a corkscrew, this poem went running through my mind--either as excuse, or confession. I'm not quite ready to discuss the fruit tart...

Perhaps I should write an entire series, for wayward (but literary) houseguests...Tis the season, after all.

This Is Just To Say

I have uncorked
the wine
that was in
the fridge

and which
you were probably
for a party

Forgive me
it was delicious
so oaky
and so gold

Happy Birthday Dear J....

And here's the original, for you English majors. Isn't it marvelous?

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


PSING said...

i have to say, you've improved on the original! and on top of that you amended the soil? wow. what a birthday gift. you are a great friend. your friend will surely agree.

Rose said...


VL said...

Dear Dominique,

How can you tell us this story and write a poem without telling us what the bottle was??

Really, some people!

And did you share the wine with said friend?

Warren said...

I hope your friends appreciate your sweat in your eyes moment working that tired soil.

And yes, you should be foregiven for your theft. A bottle of wine is just a bottle.

But it is a good thing you did not make off with RIPE plums -- truly exploding with the perfect ah-ha moment we wait all year for.

david terry said...

Hey, Ms. Browning.....

I just spent twenty minutes finally responding to your email (which you sent, two months ago, through my website, so God knows what went on in terms of server transferrals). I have no idea if your website or mine is causing the problem.

The dang thing just came bouncing back...twice.

so, if you would...just write to me at:


...and I'll re-send my reply to your email.

I hope that this doesn't seem more than usually cryptic.

thanks in advance,

David Terry

david terry said...

Dear EVERYONE.....

I think all of you (including self-convicted and Very Guilty MS. Browning) would enjoy listening to a 2008 episode of "This American Life" which features the Williams poem. As you can read in the introduction to the segment: "There's a famous William Carlos Williams poem called "This is Just to Say". It's about, among other things, causing a loved one inconvenience and offering a non-apologizing apology"

I love that phrase...." a non-apologizing apology". I certainly heard enough of them during my dating-days.

Go to (or copy/paste) this link and simply hit "play" to hear some wonderful parodies/spooofs of this poem....(and don't worry, it won't cost you nothing):


Advisedly yours as ever,

David Terry

Alexis Yael said...

Like all Creative Writing majors, I love the original poem and have written several of my own variants! I love yours, too, and that the poem flashed through you *while* in the act - quite delightful.

Elizabeth said...

I've read and re-read the Williams poem probably a million times in my English major life, but I can honestly say that yours was terrific, too!

Dominique said...

I drank a Landmark Chardonnay. Not the one I photographed, as I did not have my camera with me, not knowing that I was going to be robbing my friends. And no, I didn't share, as they are away, and it is meant to be a surprise. Not the theft. The bed.

Non-apologizing apologies are a specialty of certain people. My particular favorite: "I'm sorry if you feel I hurt you." It took me years to figure out that what was not being said was: "I'm sorry I hurt you."

A distinction with a difference.

Dominique said...


and you can hear Wm. Carlos Williams' own voice reading here

but I must say, poets are generally the worst readers of their own poems

david terry said...

Oh...predictably enough, I forgot to mention the most significant aspect of that "This American Life" episode...
It begins, of course, with a reading of the Williams poem. Then, twenty or so of the program's best/funniest writers (David Rakoff, Sarah Vowell, etc) deliver their own "versions" of the poem...specific to various appalling situations, but all quite representative of the non-apology apology". It's terribly funny at times.

---david terry

quintessence said...

Ha!! I'm sure your friend and her beloved will consider it an equitable trade!!

mary said...

Hmmmmmm --such a wonderful gift to friends. The thoughts of the wine will be even more divine because of the memories that went with it. Mary

Eulalia Benejam Cobb said...

Dominique, I think your version is even better than the original. Every time I read the Williams poem I can't help saying to myself, "those plums would have been so much sweeter at room temperature!" I know it's a poem, not a recipe, but sometimes the kitchen-mind intrudes.

Anonymous said...

My dear Dominique,

It was my birthday
Your blog a most joyous gift
I hide the good stuff

Heather Robinson said...

Voila! "Anonymous" above (and now I am sounding like David Terry with his quotation marks) said it perfectly, and as it needed to be said, no doubt. Perhaps I have been living in France too long (not a subject I should think about too much) but here we all know that any wine in the "frigo" is only that which is ready for immediate consumption, non? If you had gone digging around in the cellar, that would have been another thing entirely. Ah, the freedoms of real friendship!

profA said...

Lovely post. Artful parody.
And just to what depth did you dig and then add amendments and also...no ready water?!? You are a true friend. I hope you planted some comfrey. Then your friends can make Comfrey Tea, which, thanks to a post on Garden&Gun (another great find, thanks to yourself) is a fine compost cocktail.
As for your question..."have you ever...?" the answer is only one time...when I was seven and stole A (meaning one) brownie from the school lunch room (meant for the next day) with my friend Joanie. I had to make an apology in person. My dad was a teacher at the school. Terrifying! Joanie did not have to make an in person apology.
Cheers! Linda B.

Lines of Beauty said...

Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

davidterry said...

Dear Heather (and you know who you are...),

I hope you'll at least give me credit for not airly lifting the first two fingers of each hand and waving them about when I mention a name or some otherwise unremarkable noun. I had an in-law great-aunt who used to do this with just about every third word that came out of her mouth.

Presumably, her doing so indicated some enormous class gulf/divide between her and whatever she'd just been forced to mention.

Her sisters-in-law always (even in their seventies, when I was growing up) had a great deal of fun mocking her digital "quotation marks".

advisedly yours as ever,

"David" terry
www.youCantBeTooCarefulOnthe InternettheseDays.org

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Have you seen the cover for the new book, Broetry, by Brian McGackin?

Cristina said...

the "I'm sorry if you feel I hurt you" is absolutely fantastic.
to thank you for sharing, now I must...
...drink to your health, Ms. Brown!

Melanie J Watts said...

HA ha ha this is wonderful. My creative writing prof read Williams plum poem too us the first day of class
I've loved it ever since. Your rendition is great! I love that you planted a herb garden for your friend. How was the wine ?