Things I Know by Heart #SOL

My poem today is inspired by Emily Yamasaki’s post Core Memories on Ethical ELA’s #verselove April poetry writing challenge.

the exact spot you turn, turn, and plop into the crook of my legs in bed
the sound of Bubba's horn from across the lake
the time needed to boil the sugar, cocoa, milk and butter to the perfect consistency
the exact location where scar tissue replaces a lump
the eight digits pressed in order to reach you
the feel of the worn three panel leather ball resting in my hand
the sound of my father's whistle in a crowd
the boards that creak as I sneak out of your room
the woody scent of your cologne
the place between your ear and nose where I nuzzle you for a furry kiss
the blended sequence of breath and movement in a chaturanga
the harsh words spoken to me 40 years ago, 28 years ago, 3 years ago

If I Blink #SOL

my hands touch the warm rubber
hard, dried and cracking along the curves
I grab and pull back
one, two, threeee
my hand releases

if I blink, 
my mind transports to 20 years ago
our almost daily trips to this park
late mornings,to return home for lunch and naps

the rhythmic pushing 
feet high in the air
little fingers grabbing that same metallic chain

if I blink,
I see our red wagon filled with snacks and stuffed animals
and always pacifiers (extras just in case)
hands gripping the sides
bodies leaned back against the rails
traveling in style

chatter bounces around the playground
kids chase up, around, over, under
toddlers waddle with caretakers protecting their every move

if I blink,
you are exploring as hover and I predict your next step 
you are running to and fro
playing with friends, plotting your games

You've grown too old for this
I begin again with the next generation
But, oh how I savor the memories of old
if I blink

A morning at Donner with my great nephew

The White Swing #SOL21

Inspired by Leigh Anne Eck’s post about her porch, I got to thinking about the two houses I’ve lived in that have front porch swings.

Orchard Lane–It was a white swing with hard wooden slats. Not comfortable at all, yet I would spend hours on it, swinging and reading. I remember the creak the chain would make as I moved forward and back. I remember the prickly green artificial grass carpet as my feet slid back and forth along its cool bristly surface. I remember the way I would curl up on the swing, my body cramped into an awkward shape with my head on the wooden arm rest. We didn’t have central air conditioning, so in the summer the front porch swing was one of the coolest places to be. We lived a short distance from the library, so many afternoons were spent visiting the library and returning home to read on the porch swing. It might be a Judy Blume book or the next book in the Flowers in the Attic series. Hours would pass. Page after page would turn. I was so content on that white swing.

Franklin Street–It was a white curved wicker swing with a flowered seat cushion. I remember the sticky, clear plastic sleeve that covered the metal chain. I remember the grinding sound the metal links would make as the swing oscillated. I remember the painted concrete floor with a gritty sand texture that gently massaged my feet as I skimmed them up and back on the ground. Many afternoons were spent on that swing gliding my babies back and forth after they woke from a nap. The gentle movement as they got out of their post nap stupor, sipping at a cup of milk and eating some animal crackers always did the trick. As they began to lift their heads to look around, we would read from our stack of books. It was the perfect wake up call each afternoon.

My current house doesn’t have a front porch swing. Maybe someday I will again. Will I enjoy a cup of coffee on the swing with a book in my retirement? Will I rock my grand babies holding them close and reading them stories? I hope so!


A Piece of Living History

I turned on the old player and inserted the CD. It was New Year’s Eve, we were staying in, and I needed some good cooking music. I pushed play. The sound took me back. 1980s. Summer vacations at my grandparents…

After a long day at the beach, everyone was taking their turn to shower and get ready for an evening out to dinner. My granddad and grandmom would visit the beach for lunch, but would head back to their condo for naps, so they were already ready for the evening.

Grandad sat at the black electric organ in his dark dress pants and light collared shirt. He chose a beat to start the music from the many buttons and lights on the his beloved machine. Then his fingers danced up and down the keyboard. His feet jumped in rhythm on the petals below. His body swayed to the tempo. The music filling every space of the modest condo.

We filtered in one by one to find a seat in the living room for our private concert. Grandmom bopped around doing odd chores, wine cooler in hand, whistling along with the music. She eventually sat in her swivel chair to enjoy the sound to its fullest. Grandad would take requests of old familiar tunes. Girl From Ipanema was my dad’s go to, while I held out for I Just Can’t Smile Without You. After several songs, Grandad would turn the power off, and we would head out to a local restaurant for our seafood dinner.

…As the CD continued to play, I found myself so grateful that my grandparents took the time to record my Grandad’s organ playing. It is a living piece of our family history. Since December 31st is my Grandad’s birthday, it is only fitting that I make this my annual New Year’s Eve playlist. Happy Birthday Grandad!

My Grandad played at many parties and events in his retirement. He loved organ playing!

The Good Ole Days

Today’s slice is inspired by Writing With Ralph Lesson 1.

Sometimes I remember
the good ole days

Packing towels and sunscreen,
ham sandwiches, Mikesells potato chips, and Twinkies

The four of us piling into
the station wagon

Driving for an hour
to Uncle Walter's barn

Dad messing with antique boat
while David and I explored 
years of dust and treasures
hidden in the wooden structure

Hooking up the Chris Craft
and pulling it to the causeway

Mom backing the car down,
dad guiding Bubba in
and driving him to the dock

Mom holding the boat
at the edge of the bobbing dock
while we unloaded the day's supplies

Dad driving the car with the trailer bouncing,
dripping with water to the parking lot

Starting the boat and embarking on the water
Finally ready for a day on the lake

I still can't imagine
anything better than that.