a walk through

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And so she sits, quiet and empty.

The old pink house, once red, or maybe red, once pink.

She rests beside the lake.

 

She has held lives in her hands, 

nailed together by rough Scottish fingers, 

held together by something that looked a lot like love, like life, like longevity.

 

Sloped driveway lies lonely now, 

black asphalt that once appealed to visiting teenagers,

lying in April’s anticipation of sun’s warming rays.

 

Screen door slams as it always did, announcing “Here, we’re back, it’s been a long drive.”

 

Both bathrooms, small for him  – teeth in a bowl waiting for morning’s use, 

shaving brush’s bristle on small girl skin, pretending life’s work. 

Large for her – apple scented shampoo and almond skin cream, 

marbled green and gold arborite with towels to match.

 

Both bedrooms, large for her – room for little girls’ songs and the reading lamp with three different settings, never sure which you would get with the first click. 

Dresser drawer filled with coloring books and trinkets to discover. 

Sleeping with her, nudging her gently when she snored, 

and waiting to share her coffee in bed with morning’s first light. 

Coffee in a beautiful cup, always brought by wrinkled hands and shuffling feet.

 

Except once they weren’t wrinkled, 

and once they didn’t shuffle.

 

Small for him, downstairs – so coughing from years of toxic furrier chemicals wouldn’t disturb her sleep. 

A single bed, spartan. 

A small TV, a flyswatter, a newspaper and a magnifying glass. 

A yellowing wool blanket.

Thin cotton old man pajamas and a pair of brown slippers. 

Encompassing.

 

Kitchen, same green marbled arborite…

sticky: sprinkles on ice cream cones, little girl hands desperate, frantically, maximize sprinkle to ice cream ratio. 

Honey and old cheddar on toast, 

fruit jumbles and cooling pies. 

Old stocking hanging from table legs for straining jellies, jams, juices. 

Picture painted by four year old girl, hangs in broom closet for 16 years. 

Meatloaf, cabbage rolls – choked down to be polite.

A produce drawer filled with Coffee Crisp, bought as a gift, an offering, a penance?

One a day, as shuffling feet and cane waving at passing cars ambled to the little store.

“Too little, too late,” she said.

And waffles, always waffles. Waffles passed on to great grandchildren now, although the house stands empty.

 

Living room, remember apple wood fires to warm in winter, 

long fingernails run slowly over little girl backs and arms. 

Hummels tucked into crevices. Roadrunners resting on the TV.

Little girl chats with old woman who irons socks. 

Tennis players and nature’s wonders grunt from TV while Archie doses in his chair. Except his name is George.

 

Sun room, box of wooden blocks and poker chips, window sills lined with glass birds.

Scratchy green rug, bridge, solitaire on old red card table. 

She watches them plunge into weedy, cold water.

 

Watches them laughing and fighting, playing and learning at life.

She dreads the time when they will leave.

She will stand in the window and wave goodbye as they drive the winding road across the lake, 

She will stand in her loneliness.

She will wonder if it will haunt them too.

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2 responses »

  1. I tearfully read this poem last night after taking the lonely lady to an October Christmas party to add to her confusion and also to her delight. After lunch today I take a potential buyer and a builder into this red house to see if they want to buy and then change or demolish the skeleton that holds all those fleeting memories of a mormor, a long gone grandpappy and my 2 little daughters now richer with children of their own. It is good to have a heart to hold the memories for when the mind falters. Love you and love this…..thanx.

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