Friday, October 28, 2016

October 28

All month, we're writing poetic letters.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Longwood Avenue in winter,

    You start at the bottom, at the main highway
    beside the woods, and roll along flat for a while.
    Then you take an upturn abruptly
    moving up a steep hill, houses on both sides
    big sugar maple trees lining the sidewalks.
    In winter, Dougal and the other big boys
    made us little kids pack down the snow
    on the whole long hillside
    spending all morning stamping
    with our little boots up one line
    then turn around and stamp down
    the next line. I stamped three lines
    and came home to lunch tired
    and hungry but looking forward to
    afternoon sledding. But when we
    little kids arrived pulling sleds,
    Dougal said, “Go home, you’re too small
    to sled on this steep hill, right boys?”
    and his big boy friends laughed at
    us and agreed to keep us off.

    My mom was a gentle, quiet soul
    but unjust treatment pushed her
    too far and she became a tiger.
    She, Christine’s mom, and Karen’s
    mom came out to the hill, hands on
    hips and eyes blazing. Karen’s
    brother Chris got sent home.
    Dougal bowed to force majeur
    and all of us sledded
    to our hearts’ content.
    Little Claude invited me in
    to his house on the hill to
    warm up with hot chocolate.

    When the snow plows came through
    they made heaps of snow beside the street
    each side resembling a small hillock.
    We little kids tunneled into these
    hillocks and made tunnels where we
    hid snowballs to throw at Dougal and
    Chris and the other big boys.
    Dad said they would collapse and
    smother us, to stay out, but we
    didn’t and they never fell in.

    My back porch was glassed in
    and I put on and took off boots, gloves,
    hats, coats, outer sweaters in there.
    First thing in the morning, the
    windows were covered with
    frost flowers and the sunbeams
    coming through broke into rainbows
    decorating everything on the porch with
    brilliant colors. I took as long to put on
    all those layers, staring at the rainbows.

    When the snow melted, we kept our boots
    handy to slog across the wet meadows and
    through the woods to the pond where the
    tadpoles were beginning to hatch and swim away.
    Some years we had to bring back buckets
    of the frog eggs because none of the tadpoles
    had hatched yet. Then we spent hours
    staring into the buckets watching the eggs
    wiggle until the tadpoles emerged.

    Oct 29 self forgiveness

    Dear Self,

    You don’t do it all right, do you?
    And you can’t help feeling bad,
    chewing over the mistakes,
    especially ones where someone
    got their feelings hurt through
    your bad actions. Or where you
    contradicted what you think of
    as your ethical principles.

    You’re too inclined to blame your mom
    for making you selfish over the tricycle
    donation she made you reverse in
    kindergarten. Or the condescension
    you thought you detected when she
    talked about lower class people
    you knew. Or the way you think she
    treated black people. Never mind
    where she started, in Mississippi
    not that long after slavery, or where
    she went, playing songs for Christ the King
    nursery school in the black heart of
    Charlotte and leaving her church because
    they wouldn’t seat a black couple
    who tried to come to services.
    Let yourself and her off the hook.
    Yes, she did well in old age.
    Yes, she was racist earlier
    and perhaps classist too.
    You didn’t have to copy her, but it’s
    natural to copy your parents. It’s time
    to forgive yourself and go on.