Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Stomping through the ‘Hood on a Recent Evening
with apologies to Robert Frost
Whose leaves these are I think I know.
His house is not on this street though.
He cannot see me seething here.
He’s busy finding things to blow.
My little dog must think it queer
the way I’m tearing out of here,
a garden rake clutched like a sword
and on my face a boarish sneer.
The blinding dust, the deafening roar,
the Marlboro butts at my front door.
More fuel used up for easy’s sake.
I’ve had it; I’m declaring war.
Through storm of trash and twigs I quake
and give my rake a violent shake.
I find the man out near his pool
with blower that I want to break.
“I scream at him, “This rake’s a tool
you use like this: you reach, you pull,
and piles appear. It’s really cool!
And quiet too! You thoughtless fool.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Seems most of my friends have been spending time this summer at various "second" homes to which they have access. They don't own them, but their family members do, or friends; or they know people who know people, you know?
A beach house at Pawley's Island, or Amelia Island, or Kiawah. A condo in Montana. A mountain house in North Georgia. A place in Naples, or Destin. A friend. An in-law. A mom. A dad. A sister. A business partner. It's the summer of free places to stay. And good thing. We're in a recession.
With Labor Day approaching, no doubt more friends will be escaping, facilitated by free accommodations.
I'm headed to Tennessee for Labor Day, to see my parents and spend some time at their second home--my dad's wooden storage shed in the back yard beside the garden. I'm not taking my bathing suit, or sunblock, or hiking boots, or a case of wine, but I am looking forward to it. My folks are of modest means; "stock" to them is something before "yard" or after "live," and they never made enough money to buy a vacation or weekend home where the smell of salt hangs on the breeze or the front yard slopes into a lake. But I sure never felt I was missing anything. The one home we have always smells like bacon or country ham, warm chocolate cake or peach cobbler.
This trip home, though, I'll mostly forego the kitchen to hang out in the shed, where I'll find a few years' worth of canned goods that will long outlive my parents, mason jars of liquor hidden behind jars of home-made tomato juice, a cardboard barrel filled with old golf balls my dad collected at the driving range where he worked after he retired, shelves of half-organized tools, electrical tape, twine, car wax, leather work gloves, and a mower--dried grass clinging to its belly.
These are the things that transport me. Sure, it would be nice to be sipping rum on a beach during the holiday weekend, my mind carried away on the wings of seagulls; but instead I will close my eyes in the dark shed--blackbirds lined on its eave--and breathe deeply the scents of sixty years of hard work, yard work, engine grease, gasoline, slightly ruined winesap apples, and sweat. If I close my eyes tightly enough, I will feel, rather than the splash of a wave, the slight spray of Dad's aftershave, even though it's been forty years since I used to stand on the toilet seat and watch him shave.
That imagined sound of blade scraping wet stubble will be more refreshing to me than rain. My father was recently diagnosed with dementia, and while he has many moments of lucidity, his memory is fraught with holes. So I relish remembering.
I remember the lines of shave cream disappearing down the drain with his facial hair those mornings before work; dandelions disappearing row-at-a-time, their seed heads fragmenting and floating away as he walked back and forth with the mower in our yard on Saturdays after the dew had dried; golf balls lost in the neighbors' bushes when he hit them too hard while practicing his pitch shots; oil from the Chevy dripping into the pan on the driveway, all but Dad's feet sliding under the car as he worked; inches of scotch evaporating from the bottle between midnight and daylight. What I don't remember are the years evaporating, yet they have.
This Labor Day, I will try to collect what they left like beach glass, and to cherish the years ahead like the last hours of a summer at the lake.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
|I had no time for manners yesterday, and tomorrow I'll be on vacation and unable to post Friday's poem. So today I've turned to one of my favorite poets to help me kill two birds with one stone, as the saying unfortunately goes. Enjoy.|