May 3, 2018. Yesterday afternoon I ventured out in weather that could not quite rain but refused to calm down … I had one of those moments of recall that brought me home to write down the memories. Searching through files, I found photos from 2017 of the same place, on a similar overcast day – which I’ve coupled with a closer view of the prickly poppies prevalent this time of the year. I go back once a year or so, preferably in the Spring. My aunt’s house is long gone, but the road remains pretty much the same – near Cheapside, 20 miles out from Cuero TX.
My memories are of the year I lived in the country with my aunt, who worked in town and got home a good 2 hours after the school bus dropped me at the front gate. I spent those 2 hours daily walking the country road, solo except for cows off in the pasture. I was in the 8th grade, a pivotal year, and I owe so much to those walks! One day in particular, the wind nearly knocked me down, but I charged into it rather than go inside to be “safe”.
June 8, 2017. Every family has drama episodes. And while the family of my childhood was not much like the family observed in this poem – I wrote this encounter because I so identified with the little girl’s spirit flattened by a simple mishap and the repercussions thus triggered. I’ve included an image of me at age 8 – a bit more cheerful than the girl in the poem. Someone must have told me to smile. (In Mrs. Camp’s 3rd grade classroom, I was not a happy camper!) Looking at the collage, I notice I’ve put myself on a pedestal – not the sort one dreams of – but appropriate given the skittery nature of being young, being trapped in your family’s dramas.
March 26, 2016. This is my mother’s birthday, and I have spent it (somewhat oddly) thinking about another’s mother – Mom Kendrick. This began in the wee hours piecing together how various rooms connected in the house I grew up in – yielding a flawed floorplan – but the sketching helped connect some dots of memories sabotaging sleep. For example, in the back bedroom helping Mother put up new wallpaper; and in the living room gleefully lending a hand the day a wallpaper pro pulled down the stained red roses that had covered those walls as long as I was old.
It fascinates – how memories overlap and create a loosely-woven backdrop for what’s going on in the present. Foorplan struggles were followed by not knowing where the pretty crystal near the kitchen door came from. I’m getting older, forgetting more! What to do? Gary’s mom zooms to mind, her habit of labeling everything. On the surface, her labels seemed foolish. But perhaps essential to her? How many were created in sleepless fits? I’m not about to label every souvenir rock, but here’s a nod to Mom Kendrick for aging and recording her own way – poetry serving as my way to record life.
The image (a collage) assumes a bit of poetic license – the floorplan (not true to scale) and the crystal are not in true proportion.
November 11, 2015. I don’t often return to West Texas where I grew up, but fragments of those years frequently come and find me, remind me there were perks in the midst of all the apparent desolation of dusty mesquite oilfields. Our Monahans backyard was one of a kind out there, a mini orchard of fruit trees — all long gone now, except in memory. One showed up in a recent dream, and an ode seems a fitting response.
This image is not the apple tree of the ode — but one of similar size and appeal from Wisconsin’s apple country, in 2004.