Sunday, October 23, 2016

October 23

We're writing poetic letters this month!

1 comment:

  1. Dear house on Longwood Avenue in Chatham, New Jersey,

    Small, cozy, two-story house,
    you were near the bottom end of Longwood Avenue
    where it’s flat and I could see the woods
    across the main road, most of the small cedars
    buried under a thick burden of honeysuckle vines.
    I loved my tiny bedroom, right at the top of the stairs,
    a room as small as I was, just enough room
    for my little bed, bureau, a rounded brown
    electric heater. No closet, but all my clothes
    folded up into the bureau nicely.
    My heavy coat, sweaters, boots,
    gloves, hats stayed on the back porch,
    a kind of air lock between the icy winds
    of winter outdoors and your warm interior.
    Your porch windows were glassed in and
    frost flowers embroidered them on cold mornings.
    I loved to look at the sun breaking into rainbows
    coming through frost while I pulled on my boots.
    Your cozy warmth came from coal
    dad shoveled into the furnace in the cellar
    every morning before we got up.

    In spring, peculiar plants next to your front door
    had small, bashful lavendar flowers that I loved
    to find and lie down next to, sometimes finding
    broken robin egg fragments in the grass.
    I said the babies had hatched. I hoped so.
    I touched the bright blue shards gently
    and tried not to break them apart any farther.
    My mom planted bright velvet pansies by your front door
    and dad planted verbenas and ageratum,
    lettuce and tomatoes in the tiny vegetable garden
    in your side yard. My baby sister, Jean,
    loved to play in the vegetable plants
    and at times, took a bite of their leaves.

    In summer, we loved to harvest apples
    from huge trees in your side yard
    and cook them down to make clear, shiny
    apple jelly topped with thick white wax
    in sterile screw-cap bottles of dense glass.
    Sometimes my friend Sharon Offsanker next door
    gave us muscadine grapes from their arbor
    with yummy inside velvet linings in the skins.
    Mom boiled them down for grape jam
    and I got to help stir the huge pot.
    Your kitchen smelled so wonderful
    when we made jelly and jam.
    We’d eat bread with jelly or jam for
    dessert after dinner, sitting out on
    your screened front porch in rockers.
    When mom and dad wanted to listen
    to Korean War news on the radio
    I put my hands over my ears or went
    upstairs to my room and read books.

    In fall, your apple tree leaves turned brown
    and yellow, curled, fell, and we raked them up.
    Sharon and I jumped into the piles. Dad
    made us rake them up again, but he wasn’t
    really too mad. I bet he remembered doing
    the same thing when he was young.
    My teacher Ms. Swartout showed us how
    to iron beautiful fall leaves between two sheets
    of wax paper, melting them together and
    sealing in the leaves. You didn’t have any
    bright maple leaves, flaming red, orange,
    and clear yellow, for that project. But I found
    some on the way home from school and when
    we got in your kitchen, Mom helped me seal
    them up so, we said, they would last forever,
    bright colors and pretty shapes. I sat in a rocker
    on your front porch and gave leaves away
    to people passing by in the street, walking
    home from work or school.