I’ve been working on a series of poems about memories tied to the house I grew up in. Although I haven’t lived there since I was eighteen, I still inhabit that blue split-level in my dreams. The series is my way of reclaiming it. That and Google Earth. I took a virtual walk from my old house to my school the other day. It made me miss it even more.
I miss our kitchen
With its back staircase and hideous patriotic linoleum.
I miss the double wall oven
And the window over the sink,
The one my mother leaned out to scold me when
I banged the porch swing too hard.
I miss the bottom cabinets and
The possibility of a delicious
Something way in the back that my
Brothers hadn’t found yet.
I miss the yellow wall phone with its
Long tangled cord, dangling
That phone two stories
Over the bannister in the hall,
The cord twisting and lengthening.
I miss the table where I spilled
Grape juice on my stuffed mouse’s nose.
Choked down salmon croquettes.
We sat in fixed seats each night.
Was that on purpose?
Mostly, I miss the closet by the table,
Half way up the wall,
Wide and deep with
White louvre doors.
The coffee urn for company was there.
A fondue pot I recall using once.
Shadowy, yellowed boxes.
The odors of grease and coffee grinds.
The best Hide and Seek spot.
Brothers, did you know?
I could hide in there for hours,
Fold my legs, duck my head,
Pull a battered box beside me and
Make myself so small. I could
Watch you peer in and not see me.
The ruckus of the house was only slightly muffled there,
And long after you gave up, slammed outside to
Find friends and other mischief,
It was safe and dark behind the coffee urn.