Tag Archives: childhood memories

Sweet Clover

Photo by my sister Patti Arnieri

Sweet Clover

Before our dad told us its real name,
we used to call it wild mustard.
What did we know about sweet clover except for its color
and that summer smell, cloying in its sugared perfume.
It filled the air and smothered the plains—
bright yellow and green where before
brown stubble had peeked through blown snow.

On these dry lands, what flowers there were
tended to be cash crops or cattle feed.
Sweet clover or alfalfa.
The twitching noses of baby rabbits brought home by my dad
as we proffered it to them by the handful.
Fragile chains we draped around our necks and wrists.
Bouquets for our mom
that wilted as fast as we could pick them.

Summers were sweet clover and sweet corn
and first sweethearts parked on country roads,
windows rolled down to the night air,
then quickly closed to the miller moths.
Heady kisses,
whispered confessions, declarations,
unkept promises.
What we found most in these first selfish loves
was ourselves.

The relief of being chosen
and assurance that all our parts worked.
Our lips accepting those pressures unacceptable
just the year before.
Regions we’d never had much congress with before
calling out for company.
That hard flutter
like a large moth determined to get out.
Finding to our surprise,
like the lyrics of a sixties song,
that our hearts could break, too.

Hot summer nights,
“U”ing Main,
cars full of boys honking
at cars full of girls.
Cokes at Mack’s cafe.
And over the whole town
that heavy ache of sweet clover.
Half promise, half memory.
A giant invisible hand
that covered summer.

The dVerse prompt today is to write  a poem about a flower. Nice coincidence that I was working on this poem for a book about growing up in South Dakota and had just asked my sister if she had any photos of sweet clover. She did–and here are both the poem and the photo.

Memory Games

Memory Games

Half over-achiever, my other part is zen.
Sometimes I concentrate on now, other times, where I’ve been.
This morning’s evanescent. I can’t remember shit.
I know I found my car key but what did I do with it?

Ameliorating circumstances? Sorry. There are none.
I simply have no memory of what  I have just done.
I know I wrote a poem, but I can’t recall a bit.
I haven’t the foggiest memory of what I said in it!

It’s said I have good judgment and a judicious mind,
but as to short-term memory? I fear I’m in a bind.
I remember blow-for-blow what happened as a child.
My college years I recall well. My twenties are well-filed.

When I write, the memories pop readily to my brain.
It’s only hours later that the memories don’t remain
of what I have just written or the words that I have used.
The present and my recent past simply are not fused.

So if you want a memory, please choose one in my past.
The farther back, the better, if you want my reply fast.
Fifty years ago are fine. The details I’ll relate.
But details of this morning? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait.

Prompt words today are ameliorate, judicious, zen, evanescent and bit.

Our Gang Comedy

Nancy Merrill is sponsoring a photo challenged entitled Nostalgia. Here is my take on the matter:

I think the year was around 1952. We were gathered for a play put on by the two cowgirls at the top of this photo. Susan, the tallest girl and also the older sister of one of the cowgirls, doesn’t look overly enthusiastic about being there. I was the little blonde girl overacting in the second row and the sister of the other cowgirl. I was their “mystery personality.” Anyone who guessed who I was (The Sunbeam Bread Girl) got a prize. They put on a few of these productions and I always thought they were wonderful.  The year before, my mystery personality had been Bonnie Braids (of Dick Tracy fame.) When they called out, “Who knows who the mystery personality is?” Bobby Lathrop yelled out, “That’s Judy Dykstra!!!” and I cried. Ah, nostalgia

 

Skating Lessons

photo by Gloria Palazzo

Skating Lessons

Bazooka or Double Bubble
the biggest decision I had to make that June,
my mentor was the girl six years my senior
who lived two houses away.
Brown braids and freckles,
her calm made order out of mayhem,
her smile resolving daily skinned knees and bruises.
A skate key on a cord around her neck—
always dependable,
like some preteen utilitarian angel.

I skated through July,
hanging my last
in a long line
of replacement skate keys
securely around my neck
from my dad’s old compass cord,

knowing by some prescience
far beyond my years
that mentors, like meteors,
streak by quickly and are soon out of sight.

 

And…..remember this song very pertinent to the topic at hand?

Prompt words are mentor, compass, mayhem and bazooka.
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/rdp-wednesday-mentor/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/your-daily-word-prompt-mayhem-may-1-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/bazooka/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/05/01/fowc-with-fandango-compass/

Little Sins: NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 3 Plus Multiple Prompts

Little Sins

Lynnie Brost and I, washing our sins away in the bathtub
and singing of it to the strains of holy music
from The Back to the Bible Broadcast
on the radio in the living room.

My older sisters stretched out on the porch
reading Photoplay and giggling
at our penitent antics,
feeling no need
to confess the sins
of Vivian dances
and the back seats of cars.

At the age of five,
How could we articulate our sins?
The tiny plastic sword—a wingless caduceus
I’d filched from a junk drawer where hundreds resided,
rewards for the cancer drive her mother supervised.
My mother head of the Sister Kenny Polio
drive, where rewards were merely
of the conscience.
How I had wanted
one of those
tiny swords.
Why

had I not just asked for one?

We
worried most
back in our innocence—
back when our sins were the least.
Back when in our minds, the value of what we wanted
was linked as much to how much we wanted it
as to its material value.

That two-penny sucker taken from the open jar
in the Peck family’s remodeled basement.
My mother asked where I’d gotten it.
My ashamed confession,
that long trip
next door
to
confess again.
No problem. That’s what they were there for.

But my mother,
knowing the power of the little sin,
was teaching me the dangers
of its contact.

What could it hurt,
sugar packets pocketed at Starbucks,
extra ketchup and mustard scooped by handfuls into purses?
Little sins overshadowed by the big sins of this world
and yet, somehow, shameful in their pettiness.
Drenched in these small sins,
what contracts do we,
unknowing,
make?

To steal from the rich and give to the poor,
then display our generosity on our lapels
by the scarlet badge of the caduceus?
Noble Robin Hoods, we justify
by our assurance that
they’ve stolen
from us
as
well.
and thus,
those who need most to learn
become instead our teachers,
educating us that their own sins are justified—
what we ourselves would do
if only we had
their power.

Prompt words today are articulate, contacts, drench and penitent.

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem that “involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time, focusing on imagery, sound or emotional content.”
Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/rdp-wednesday-articulate/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/04/03/fowc-with-fandango-contacts/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/penitent/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/your-daily-word-prompt-drench-april-3-2019/

 

 

 

 

 

Explorers

Click to enlarge photos.

Explorers

Sitting up past midnight, we search our mind for facts,
parting long grasses of the past for long-forgotten pacts
of secrets kept from parents and long-forgotten games:
“New Orleans” and “Send ‘Em” *. We comb our minds for names.

Of talents left to childhood, like flips off monkey bars.
Adventures dreamed on rooftops and the back seats of cars.
Favorite childhood dresses and jokes pulled on our folks.
Afternoons in Mack’s Cafe, sipping on our Cokes.

Hot beef sandwiches at Fern’s and running up the stairs
to avoid Mom’s fly swatter aimed at our derrieres.
Childhood dramas staged in trees or in our backyard lawn.

Teenage slumber parties that stretched out into dawn.

We journey through old albums, searching photos for
any tiny detail that will open up a door.
Each time I come to visit, we remember a bit more
on these safaris of the mind that we both adore.

*These are the names of childhood games. Did anyone else play them?

For the Word of the Day challenge: Exploring

Reviving Barbie’s Predecessors

I was reading my friend Mary McNinch’s charming blog about her play date with her granddaughter and my comment got so long I decided to turn it into a post.  Here it is: 

My housekeeper and friend Yolanda’s seven-year-old daughter Yoli was here one day and I dragged out all my old 9 inch dolls—precursors to Barbie.   Jan, Jeff and Cissette. (Although I couldn’t find Jeff.  Evidently they had a separation.) Yoli proceeded to dress them all wrong, putting Jan’s dress on Cissette (without belt and backwards at that) and dressed Jan in such a dowdy dress that it amazed me I’d ever chosen it in the first place. After she left, they stayed in place, waiting for her return, but school started and she hasn’t been back since. 

That is how, past midnight a few nights later, I found myself seated in front of my sewing table in my guest room, where I’d set Yoli up with the dolls and my Jill and Jan closet and the basket of clothes she’d neglected to put away.  After choosing the “right” clothes for each and dressing her, I replaced the detached doors of the closet, hung all the other clothes neatly in the closet, and posed the girls for best effect.  By then it was about 1:30 a.m. and I closed down the play date with myself and went to bed.  The next day, they had chosen to assume the same position I left them in. They’ve been there for a few weeks, but I have a party tomorrow night and decided it was time for them to go back into seclusion in my art studio.  Makes me kind of sad, though. Luckily, I had a photo shoot before assigning the gals back to the past. I neglected to do a photo shoot of Yoli’s choices of costume, but just as well, I don’t think her heart was really into “retro.”

Click on first photo to see larger views of photos and to see captions.