Tag Archives: memories

Sweet Clover

Getting ready to leave for Minnesota in an hour, so I’ll rely on a poem written two years ago that meets the demands of the prompt word today, which was “honk.”

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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.

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The prompt word today was honk.

back when we were baby birds

back when we were baby birds

feeding each other
cold spaghetti worms
in grass clipping nests
empty summer stretched in front of us

stale plastic wading pools
pressing yellow circles
into grass
that smelled like wet bandaids

during a game of hide-and-seek
dust bunnies behind the chest
full of old prom dresses
in the upstairs hall

mouse droppings
in the basement
pits from sour cherries
scattered on the back steps

scraps of soggy paper
dried into small sculptures
under the weeping willow tree
revealing part of each original message

mommy is . . .
. . . ate my cookie
I hope Sharon . . .
my doll doesn’t . . . your doll . . .

summer just an empty cup
we filled each day
with the long summer rains
of daydreams.

 

The prompt today way fragrance. Since I have to leave soon for the first day of Campamento Estrella, here’s a poem I wrote so long ago that I’d totally forgotten it. I’ll post photos of camp later today.

“Unexposed”

It is the difference between that present handed to you by a person who says, “It’s only a tie,” and a package under the tree squeezed and prodded at—perhaps a corner loosened or a hole poked in through supposed accidental handling, pondered like a good detective show. Who wants these mysteries revealed before their time? What value in the present whose contents you already know for sure?

The magic of Christmas for some is that faith that the girl, untouched by human lover, gave birth—and it is that sort of faith that “saved” the world. If we knew the whole truth of that story would all it prompted fall into the hole covered all these years by mystery? The whole world seems to be standing more on what we don’t know than on what we absolutely know empirically—what we can prove.

Unexposed

And so I look at the picture of my young mother
in her cotton housedress and saddle shoes
holding her baby in front of her in her stroller,
whole contraption, child and carrier,
a foot or two above the ground,
and there is mystery in the reveal.

I do not hear what transpired to cause this pose––

whether my father caught her carrying me
from the porch to sidewalk and said,
“Here, Tootie, turn around,” and snapped the picture,
or whether my older sister planned the pose.
Perhaps some movie star was snapped in a similar scene
and my mother and sister, like two conspiring fans,
planned the shot to steal the glamor formerly reserved
for “Photoplay” or “Look” or “Life.”

There would be no reel-to-reel
in any normal person’s life for years.
No movie camera to tell me exactly what my mother and I were like
 before my memory took hold and even then,
what I remember of childhood is
more like reflections in a lake that color and change
depending on the clouds or rain,
distorting the light like moods.

My Aunt Peggy’s house,

always remembered as feeling like
the color chartreuse,
and I will never know why––
that smell of a friend’s house that became associated
with her memory more than any concrete proof of
the spinning film of a movie projector.

I do not know my mother’s voice at thirty.
I did not witness myself since birth
by either sound or sight.
There is a different mystery
to a past caught
in boxes of Kodacolor prints
curling and yellowing in a closet
than one documented like a science experiment
with every event taped and filmed.

Where does the mystery of you reside when you see yourself
so clearly, as others have seen you all along?
What does it leave for you to try to discover?
No tapes.
No film.
No Internet.
No Skype.
No YouTube.
No home movies.
All of our pasts were once wrapped up forever
with only our fingers poking in the edges.
Only our voices asking,
“What was it like the day when I was born?”
What do you remember about the day when. . . .?

(This is a rewrite of a poem I wrote three years ago.)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/exposed/

Snap

 

Snap

You flavor my memory with common tastes: Spam and corned beef hash.
You wanted to be the common man, but you were anything but.
The bold aggression and the subtle feminine sweep of what you formed—

beautiful. Your hands never clumsy as they sculpted wood and stone.
Metal bent and melted into beauty at your touch,
and colors lifted the wings you gave them.


I floated, also–– too independent to be formed by you,

but still uplifted that a man like you could love me.
It validated something in me—those hard choices I had made
because I listened to something vivid in myself I had not yet found a name for.
Dreams taught me. And synchronicity.

I had always wanted to be a wanderer­­­­—to try to quench those yearnings
that had haunted my daydreams since I was a child.
I cut the ties that bound and wandered West to find you—stable man
pinned by your wings to obligation all your life.
Instead of pinning me down, you wandered with me.
The gypsy life of making and selling art. The easy camaraderie of that circus life.
The vans and wagons circling every weekend in a different convention center parking lot.
Nights pulled into the woods or by the ocean.
Short nights in transit, parked in neighborhoods where we’d be gone by six.
The song of tires on the road, Dan Bern and Chris Smither. Books on tape.
Pulling quickly off the road to lug a dead tree or a well-formed boulder into the van
or to engineer its route up to the roof,
so we returned home as heavily laden as we had departed—
bowed under by the fresh makings of art.

The texture of our home life was silver dust and wood curls.
Its sounds were the stone saw and the drills and polisher.
The heat of the kiln hours after it had lost its art.
The fine storm spray of the sandblaster,
the whine of drills and whirling dervish of the lathe.
The smell of resin, redwood, stone dust, paint.
The sharp bite of metal. The warm bread smell of cooling fired clay.
Every bit of my life was flavored by what you loved––what I loved, too,
our interests merging so completely that for awhile
we had no separate lives, but one life welded end-to-end.

These remembraces are not organized or filed.
They flutter into my mind like hidden lists blown off tall shelves.
That life now a scrapbook of the past with certain photos plucked out
to be tucked under bedroom mirror rims or carried in wallets.

Snap. You put yourself into my mind.

Snap. Another memory follows,
and I am an old woman replaying her life.
Snap. The creak of the tortilla machine across the street in the early hours.
The loud rush of the surf, the rattling startup of a motorcycle.
The raspberry seed between my teeth,
the scent of the dog’s bath still on my hands,
sand gritting the sheets
and art projects taking over every surface.
Snap. I am me, looking for the next adventure.

 

Below photos snapped a few minutes ago. Proof of the tale.  New projects.
Click on first photo to enlarge and see all photos.

 

 

The prompt today was vivid.

First Love and the School Reunion

Then and Now

First Love

Zing! went our heartstrings. Zang! went our souls.
Eyes filled with wonder, hearts cupped like bowls
ready to fill  with passion and love.
Putting each other on like a glove.

First kisses miracles we’d never known.
No longer single all on our own.
Someone to cuddle, someone to spoon.
Hand holds and lip locks over too soon.

Misunderstandings, squabbles and fights.
Heartbreak and lonely Saturday nights.
Then a new glance from cars “U”ing  main.
Flirting and wooing all over again.

More hugs and kisses parked on a hill.
How to forget them? We never will.
At school reunions, we relive those lives,
husbands beside us, or boyfriends or wives.

Talking of other things: study halls, games,
but always remembering carving those names
in desktops and memory—first loves forever—
tendrils that bind us that we cannot sever.

We’ll soar ahead to the rest of our lives,
collecting new memories—bees in our hives.
But no honey finer than that we made first.
No sweeter lips and no stronger thirst.

Stored in our hearts, remembered but hidden,
hoarded like treasures sealed in a midden,
our lives are made richer by both now and then.
Past memories opening over again

spill out old secrets, then seal them away
to be unwrapped on some future day
when old schoolmates meet for two days’ reminiscing
of school pranks and ballgames and homework. And kissing.

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The prompt word today was “Zing.”

The Things We Leave Behind

Amazing that I was just going to suggest this as a prompt to Cee and then saw in the reader that it was a WordPress weekly prompt.  ESP working overtime lately.

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In this first photo, my friend in the foreground of the photograph is visiting the town she left behind over fifty years ago.  I love the repetition in the backs of the two women as they walk away reflected in the crossing light logo.

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This elderly gentleman has been visiting the beach at the same time I do for a number of years.  I once tried to involve him in a dice game, but he wasn’t much interested unless it was for money!  Instead he told me about his past as an artificial inseminator, which led to a few stories of my own about my dad who was one of the first ranchers to make use of this process on his cattle ranch.  I thought he had a bit of a twinkle in his eye as I expounded on the topic.

It was two years later that I met his daughter and related to her the topic of my earlier conversation with her father.  She looked askance.  Her father had never been an artificial inseminator!  What had been his job?  He was with the CIA, she explained.  Now, was that a twinkle in her eye as well?  Guess I’ll find out this year.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/the-things-we-leave-behind/

Layers


Layers

We store our truths in layers,
peeling back the amount we can stand to see.
Each year peels away some layers and builds others
until we grow in furrows and in hillocks.

Smooth truth is for the very young.
The old need their protections
as memory, like flesh and misfortune,
begins to bury itself to cluster underground

in cliques and hidden passageways,
lurking like guests in a British mystery play,
searching for us as we search for them in kind.
Old beaus, lost children and beachside vacations

sealed shoulder-to-shoulder in a too-small room––
a pantry, perhaps, or closet––
waiting waiting
to be peeled away.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/layers/