bench

collapsing mudstone cliffs.

slippery weathered stone.

wanderlusting

coffee- and black- berry bushes.

EVERYWHERE

nature overflows into

EXCESS.

(WE were tide poolers back then,

YES

even the dogs!).

on the path to my (once) home melted

now

beyond molded mudslides, (still, the creek runs off towards the OCEAN!).

a bench

the simple wood slab CHISTLED between two cypress trees

cloistered forever, closed off,

reachable only

in the FROZEN forest

of my mind.


School

My traumatic relationship

with grade school

began

on the bus in kindergarten

after

Billy Ardelino

CLAIMED

I had shocked him

as I walked

down the aisle

towards my seat.

Nothing was

SAFE

Anymore.


Mark

There is a picture of me

on my Christening Day,

(taken in the back yard

of my grandparent’s house

in Jamaica, Queens).

Even then,

on the occasion celebrating my birth,

my brother’s presence

DOMINATED

the photo.

HE was only 4

but already had no doubt

HE

was the most important person

in any room,

any setting.

That

never

changed.

 


Vase

i

had     (figuratively)

poured some water

into the base of that vase

in hopes of sustaining

a        flower.

Oh my gOd,

the thought is so

Terrifying.


Frankie

                                                                                                            After

FrAnKiE

began

cLiMbInG OUT of his crib

and

RuNnInG OUT of the house

in the morning,

we

mOvEd the locks on all the doors

UP

near the CEILING

so he couldn’t

ReAcH them.

LoOkInG

Back,

I don’t tHiNk we ever succeeded

in CaTcHiNg

HIM.


Nightgowns

Things got

even worse

the night of the girl cousins’ sleepover at Nanna’s.

MY MOTHER

came into the bedroom and Insisted

i not wear underpants

                                     under Aunt Peggy’s HUGE

and wrinkled white cotton nightgown.

“It’s good to let your skin BREATHE at night,”

SHE SAID.

When she left the room,

THEY ALL LAUGHED

i was mortified.

AGAIN.


Books

 By the time I was seven,

I had read EVERY BOOK in the children’s section

of the Farmingdale library.

I read

Walking home from town,

Stirring sauce on the stove,

or

Sitting on the front stoop

while the other kids played

street games

until well past

sunset.


Paris

The breakfast table this morning …

A dark pink

ROSE     

It’s petals slightly listing

(in a gentle gesture)

Sits before me

as I sip my coffee

and I realize I failed

To notice the other mornings

what was right                      IN FRONT

Of my eyes.

 


The Mural

 

Mrs. Ecker                                                                                                                                                                   and painted a

came over                                                                                                                                                                    magnificent

that evening                                                                                                                                                                 garden scene

with her oils                                                                                                                                                                  on my

and her paints                                                                                                                                                               bedroom wall:

A Flowering Tree, birds and butterflies

 

A Squirrel.

 

No sooner had she left

T H A N

M Y

M O T H E R

grabbed

 

a pint of sky blue to cover over

the most magnificent of the

Butterflies.

It was too gaudy she said.

NOT

AT ALL

WHAT

SHE

WANTED


brain repair

if

there were only a way

in which I could

pipe clean

or

(perhaps more aptly)

sand blast

my way

through

All the plaque and frozen dust mites

to rediscover those

Magical nuggets

which constitute a history of things

I have loved


home

In the middle of Woodland Avenue, 

                                       Wide dirt path, watching

 the moving truck turn the

       Corner,

cocooned in dust


slap

Cathy

Stood there

    frizzy blonde hair

      bucked teeth

        chubby cheeks.

                                            I

Opened the screen door 

and SLAPPED 

                          her across the Face


 

The  Garden

Save for the winter months,

there was always something blooming:

white and pink dogwood trees,

yellow tulip and daffodils,

red and white azaleas,

and a neat row of well-tended forsythia

along the back fence.


Second Grade

Tall

(and spindly) Mrs. Valentino

had long fingered arthritic hands,

a straight clothes pin nose,

and wore darkly framed glasses.

She had a reputation

for being the most strict teacher

in Sweet Hollow School.

I adored her.

 

 

 

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