Monthly Archives: April 2014

Memories of Aunt Dixie’s Brownies

Billows of tan dust flow along the bottom edge
of the windows. I look out as if we are in
a submersible, as if it is uncertain,
as if we are churning over the top edges
of a cloudy sea. Barely rolling hills appear
to be just slow moving far away waves. The car
rolls from side to side as much as it moves forward
those times when the fat wheels find a groove or gulley
in the gravel. I’d learned to leave my body loose,
also rocking side to side, kind of letting go.

What does it mean, when what’s most vivid in visits
to Aunt Dixie and Uncle Ray’s farmhouse is the
getting there part, not the being there part? The car
slowed as we near the farmhouse, white, of course. Farmhouses
were all white in those days, with porches, front and back.
She’d come out to greet us, in her apron. We kids
would run around the yard, grownups in the kitchen,
gabbing and cooking. Back then, it just seemed friendly,
but now I wonder if visits were more often
after my granddad died? Or maybe not. Who knows?

Aunt Dixie’s smile quirked a bit to one side (the right),
her nose a bit narrow, curly hair as dark as
her brownies. I never noticed how much she looked
like my granddad (who was bald); how much my mother
looked like her. They all seemed unique, unchangeable.
That was 40-some years ago. My ideas
of what’s ‘unchangeable’ have changed somewhat. But not
the brownies — they haven’t changed much at all. I still
make the same recipe Aunt Dixie made, passed on
to my mother, passed on to me, then my daughter.

Memories of a Storm

Storm Clouds, 5/29 16:34 - d

Our minds an intricate web of trials,
cascades of triggers launching memories.

The shade of green that was an aching fog
is today the top of a parked sedan.

Lavender is for a tall, plain woman
I never actually met, but dreamed of.

Patchouli brings back the dorm dining hall,
standing in line for orange Jello, and milk.

Sautéed onions? My mother’s happy smile
the first time she served them as vegetables

for dinner, big scoops & mounds on our plates.
Tonight, a warning shot of lightning, bright,

and then rumbling; the winds knotted and fierce;
the sudden downpour drenching passersby,

arms braced before their eyes, tshirts plastered
against thin ribs as they curse, stagger, scream.

Flashback. A night with rain like this, drenching,
suffocatingly thick, and I can’t wait

to be out in it, like a dog off leash
darting. Standing under the roof’s downspout,

quickly sodden as if I was swimming
through air turned into water, water turned

into a perfect sweetness. I feel safe,
laying flat, grassheads bobbing overhead,

trees around the periphery, and skies
rippling with bright erratic threads twining

into one another, a golden net
tossed across a black sky, cutting through clouds

so sharply that when the sky clears, the stars
themselves remember being trapped, captured,

for the space of a breath, or even less,
and then the stars forget again, puzzled.

Memories of Plums

Japanese Paper: Plum Blossoms


Stamens whisker-long,
tender as velveted paws,


So many ripe, falling,
the ground slippery with stones,
the sweet scent of rot.


Leaves gnarled with bugbites,
rimmed at the edges with gold,
crisp cascade to earth.


The small old tree bent
black and grey against the snow.
Brittle, the twigs snapped.

Memories of Midnight

Faint, high-pitched mewling whimpers. And again.
Rattles, and rustling. In thin pajamas
and bare feet, I crouched by the bannister,

wondering: cat? crying? television?
Rumbling. A man’s voice. No man was downstairs,
just the babysitter, so it must be

the TV, right? I waited, chilled. Voices.
A door opened, and closed, and then silence.
I waited, listening even harder.

Memories of Fatigue

Pic of the day - Inexpressible Joy

I always made her tea. Earl Grey, but not
too hot. Dunked thirty-two times, but quickly,
counting one one-thousand, two one-thousand.

In the large Redwood mug (the outside brown
as tree bark, the inside robin’s-egg blue).
Two heaping spoons of sugar. With cold milk.

She was always so tired when she came home,
she went straight to bed, laying on her side
with a book, a cup of tea, and then napped.

I must have watched her sleep a thousand times.
Now I wonder if that is what my son
will remember about me, decades on.

Memories of Star Trek

What an arrogant little snot I was,
saying I didn’t like Star Trek because

it’s scientifically inaccurate,
then hiding behind the pink rocking chair

until someone said the words “warp drive” or
Captain Kirk again kissed someone badly,

when I’d shout ARGH and run in the kitchen,
impatient with imaginary science

principles as much as restrained gagging
I imagined from alien women.

Memories of Violets

Spring flowers

The first flowers I ever gave my mom
were violets — little (like me), soft, and blue —
toddler fingers pressing stems in her palm.
The first flowers I ever gave my mom
went in the smallest vase. She was so calm,
after the accident, as if she knew.
The first flowers I ever gave my mom
were violets. Little. Like me, soft, and blue.

Memories of Shakespeare

Michigan RenFest 2010

Old blankets spread over summer grasses.
Stems poke through, prickling bare legs. I tuck
my knees up in my arms, smudge my glasses,
clean them on the blanket. Waiting for Puck
and Oberon, I sing along with lute
and flute, “a heigh-ho, the wind and the rain.”
Clouds skid overhead, thicken. Pigeons hoot,
mosquitoes buzz. Dusk falls. A homely swain
enters stage-right, sweating in puffed velvets
patched and stained, but I pretend not, enthralled
with lords, and soldiers clanking in tin helmets,
centuries old silliness of loves walled
away from each other, donkey and dame.
I’m wrapped in dreams, crickets’ chirp, fireflies’ flame.

Memories of Forgetting

Stupid irritating security
questions! I can’t remember the answers!

That’s the problem with having amnesia —
I forget. But not always the same things.

One day I can’t remember the boy’s name
who took me to prom. Next time I forget

my favorite teacher, or my first dog,
but I now know the boy. No guarantees

that I’ll recall what I need when needed.
I don’t even know what breed the dog was.

For a few minutes I think my first dog
was a gray Schnauzer. Then, an hour later,

it’s back — my first dog was a black Lab pup,
mixed with just a pinch of fox terrier,

barely taller than my ankle, wriggling,
struggling, tugging, licking, tickling. Silly

pooch. We got her at my Great-Aunt’s farm,
clouds of dust billowing around the car

as we drove home. My son says, “Write a poem
about our dog now!” Hope I remember.

Memories of Making

Mom's Folks

Blue Ford, round fenders.
I see feet, hear cussing, then
“Hand me the wrench, please!”

Scrimshaw and tatting,
old sailor’s arts made tiny
in my mother’s hands.

No money for a piano,
so he got one secondhand,
took it apart, removing

the player roll mechanism
so his bride could play music.

Long after both had passed on
I wore that piano’s steel key
in my own wedding.

Saws, hammers, glues, clamps,
the clean scent of fresh cut wood
growing strip by strip

into a solid oiled block.
instead of money, he spent
months assembling scraps.

I helped, well, tried to.
That long ago gift is still
used in my kitchen.

“Oh, you’ll love this!” she said, “Here,
let me show you.” Hot water
in a pan with nail polish.

Yes, really. Then, the paper
laid ever so carefully
to float on water. Magic?

Mysterious dials and wires
defined gramp’s ham radio,

dad’s basement-built computer,
both! It must run in our genes.