Nanny’s kitchen

The floor was red linoleum. The walls
cream above the molding and red 
running down to the floor. There was
one window over the table where we
ate weekday dinners. Where 
Nanny sat and minced lettuce, carrots
and onions on a piece of newspaper before
adding mayonaise... or was it Miracle Whip
to make her signature salad. 

A stranger surprised Nanny at the 
kitchen door while she was held the same
knife. Looking right at him, whatever
she said made him leave, quickly.

The little refrigerator with creamery ice cream in
ice cube trays and glass storage bowls
with cloth caps. On top sat the radio that
played soap operas sometimes. A small trash can with
step peddle to open with a tiny amount of trash and
garbage, mostly being cut up for the birds.

During heat waves, my mother and
her sister dragged their mattress down
to the kitchen and slept on the red floor
between the open doors of kitchen and
living room. A small cool in the Detroit
summer of heat.

The summer we stayed there, my sister and I 
sat evenings with Poppy. While he drank a big
glass of buttermilk, we played Sorry! 
Eating Ritz crackers with
grated cheese.

Summer Saturdays Nanny and our mothers washed
the dishes, a pan of dishwater and a pan for
rinse water, while my cousins and I
played outside in the backyard. Never
being asked to help. Giving them time 
alone to talk.


Dancing in the time of plague

my brother-in-law called yesterday 
morning from my driveway.
just dropping 
by to say 
good morning in this time of plague.

i saw them through the 
windows, suave and urbane. glad
I was dressed with
hair combed.

beside their car, they
began dancing, laughing 
music turned up 
they were a party in my driveway.

music down, we stood talking, 
me next to my car, they 
next to theirs. far
enough apart to be safe from
any stray virus we might be carrying.

it was the first time i'd seen them
since the quarantine - a month? two
months? it's hard to remember any more. 
their dog in the back seat. wondering 
why and where.

they'd just been by and waved at the grandkids 
through the windows. i wished for the porch
chairs and the little tables in idlewild.
i could serve tea and we'd sit, each at our 
table, and talk in the yard. ten feet apart.
just in case.

Where I Lived

Golden leaves on trees on the shore of the Mill River. Snow as high as the porch. 

Belle Isle picnics, watching freighters on the Detroit River. The green canopy of Elm trees. A snow ball bush, an apple tree and cabbages in my grandparent's yard. Snow that fell all winter long and didn't melt until late March. 

Exploring second growth woods across from the cottage. Swimming across the lake in the summer and skating in winter. Fishing from the dock. The waves of Lake Michigan washing fish up on the cement walk to the Ludington light house. The Northern lights playing over the yard. So many stars. The shades of deep purple, maroon and brown of oak leaves. The red and yellow of Maples in the fall.

The Angel Oak and hanging moss. Sand dollars in the ocean. The totally dark night time roads of the sea islands. Fresh fish. Shrimp. Sand dunes and sea grass and the rise and fall of the tides.

Red dirt roads. The smell of pine trees in the heat of summer. Pecan trees. Huckel berries and black berries. Ticks.

Walking around Watkins Mill lake and down by the Fishing river. Snow and ice and slippery hills in winter.

Waterfalls,mountains,lakes and woods. So hard to get to for me, but then there are the many trees in my yard. The sun and sky and stars over all.