Each month, write a new collection.
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 rainbowscoming through frost while I pulled on my boots. Your cozy warmth came from coaldad shoveled into the furnace in the cellarevery morning before we got up.In spring, peculiar plants next to your front doorhad small, bashful lavendar flowers that I lovedto find and lie down next to, sometimes findingbroken 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 doorand dad planted verbenas and ageratum,lettuce and tomatoes in the tiny vegetable gardenin 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 applesfrom huge trees in your side yardand cook them down to make clear, shinyapple jelly topped with thick white waxin sterile screw-cap bottles of dense glass.Sometimes my friend Sharon Offsanker next doorgave us muscadine grapes from their arborwith yummy inside velvet linings in the skins.Mom boiled them down for grape jamand I got to help stir the huge pot.Your kitchen smelled so wonderfulwhen we made jelly and jam.We’d eat bread with jelly or jam fordessert after dinner, sitting out on your screened front porch in rockers.When mom and dad wanted to listento Korean War news on the radioI 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. Dadmade us rake them up again, but he wasn’t really too mad. I bet he remembered doingthe same thing when he was young.My teacher Ms. Swartout showed us howto iron beautiful fall leaves between two sheetsof wax paper, melting them together and sealing in the leaves. You didn’t have anybright maple leaves, flaming red, orange,and clear yellow, for that project. But I foundsome on the way home from school and whenwe got in your kitchen, Mom helped me sealthem up so, we said, they would last forever, bright colors and pretty shapes. I sat in a rockeron your front porch and gave leaves awayto people passing by in the street, walking home from work or school.