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.
Lying here in the dark breathing in breathing out. Morning light seeping in around the curtains. Breath in, hold, exhale. Breath, hold, exhale.
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.
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.
The bare branches of the elms arched over the sidewalks when we walked those blocks to school in the winter. Down Calvert, across Linwood. Sometimes we cut across Central's field. That's how Carol lost her boot in the snow. Her brother Ralph got the beating for it.
shadow gray like grains of shells worn down by ocean waves. shadow gray like scum on top of brown rice. shadow gray like your eyes. shadow gray.
The silver threads that
tie my yard together
have turned into nets,
catching golden leaves as
they fall, turning
mobiles, spinning and
in the sun.