Category Archives: Memories

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 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 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 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.

Memories of Butterflies

2013-05-18 at 18.00.04

Pomegranates, peacocks, eggs, or dolphins,
but what my fingers knew were butterflies.
Each Easter I fold sets of paper wings

for the kids, but this time, driving thru Spring
in rain and sun, across hundreds of miles,
folding wings from the loveliest papers,

folding a rainbow of wings to cascade
across the walls of her hospital room —
Resurrexit, sicut, dixit. Oh, yes.

Memories of Music

Love the beginning of the word, she said.
And love the end of the word, she said, but
not as much.

Love the beginning of the phrase, she said,
and hold onto it until the end, then
let it go.

Love the beginning of the song, she said,
then back away, as if you changed your mind,
fickle, yes, like that.

Memories of a Hundred Dollar Bill

Not mine, but I can wish, eh? ;)

How peculiar, how odd are the things that
become bookends in time. Insubstantial
as a scent, color, flimsy as paper.

No cornerstone these, but yet they become
anchors of memory, bulwarks for the hard
decisions. Once I saw a grim plump man

drop a hundred dollar bill. When I tried
to give it back, he flinched, and rolled his eyes.
The third try, he took it, putting the bill

in his money clip, hitching up his pants
at the same time. Then he insisted on
buying me a fifty cent beer on tap

and sitting with me while I drank it all.
Every drop. No chitchat, no eye contact.
Twenty odd years later, walking the dog,

a young man strolled by the park, just about
the same age I’d been. He smiled. I waved back.
He started to walk towards me, his hand out,

some sort of paper in it. “No, thank you,”
I smiled. “No …” he began, then shook his head,
jogging towards me, hitching up his pants,

sliding his money clip in his pocket,
shoving a hundred dollar bill towards me.
Once, twice, … I take it as if by reflex,

asking him, “Why?” I really want to know.
He shrugs, dimples, and looks me in the eye.
“Just because,” he grins, waits expectantly.

I pause, then put my hands together, and bow.
“Thank you.” He bounces on his toes, happy.
I watch, baffled, as he strides down the street.

That was yesterday. Today, at the bank,
they gaped, “True story?!” “True story,” I said.
Three tests later, “Hunh, and the bill’s even real.”

NOTE: Yes, folk, I missed posting this on the right day. I was working on this poem, writing it for the 15th (ironically Tax Day), when my son became ill and I was unable to finish it and post it. So, this was written for the 15th, but posted on the 16th, and backdated. I cheated. I’ll try to write another poem so that NaPoWriMo doesn’t get off schedule. — pfa.