Down in Grandma’s Cellar
Sleeping over at Grandma’s, her rooms all stuffed with treasure
there for my explorations, their pillaging my pleasure.
The barn so full and shadowed with pigeons, mice and more,
I did not venture farther than to peek in through the door.
But the basement was forbidden, so I overcame my fear.
To test my new maturity, I had to venture near.
Down in Grandma’s cellar, I could not see the stars.
There weren’t any planets like Jupiter or Mars.
But still it was as dark as night. The light from one mere candle
seemed the only light the ghosts who lived down there could handle.
As I creaked down the ladder rungs, glass rattled on the shelves
as though the time-dulled canning jars told stories on themselves.
Rhubarb on the nearest shelves, peaches in the back.
Watermelon pickles seemed poised for the attack,
swaying on the upper shelves, dusted by the years.
I gathered up my courage, pushing down my fears.
So many eyes caught in the dark. Glassy gleaming sprites
waiting there to satisfy the family’s appetites.
But no one came to gather them and spread them on a plate.
The waste of it was senseless—their empty, useless fate.
How many hours she’d labored to gather nature’s fruit.
How many other hours used up in the pursuit
of washing, peeling, cutting, and packing them in glass,
packing them in cauldrons and boiling them en masse.
Where did the hungry mouths go? Why did they go untasted?
What happened all those years ago that their richness was wasted?
Accustomed to the secrets kept hidden behind blinds,
we kids retained the questions that stirred our tiny minds.
So many of these mysteries lie hidden in my past.
Remarkable how long their spreading shadows seem to last.
I still have some of Grandma’s old canning jars, now relegated to a decorative use.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
NaPoWriMo prompt: Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something mysterious and spooky!