Monday, March 27, 2006


- Poster by Fred Calleri

Ted Kooser will be here! After reading
his beautiful poetry every granny and
old man I loved, who lived on those green
Ohio farms, is back again, their songs and
stories alive in me like they never disappeared
so long ago and far away...


He had the bluest, laughing eyes,
my favorite great-uncle, Edward,
and died of stomach cancer
from rubbing DDT on the backs
of his cows to keep the flies away.
Edward's passing was announced
to my grandma, his most beloved sister,
by three knocks of the death angel
on her door the night before he died.

Ed's wife, laid back Clara,
was forever getting lost or left behind
but never got upset about it and I loved
her dearly for her slow, gentle ways.
Their barn had such a lovely dusty light,
streaming golden through the loft windows
that I thought heaven might be just above
that high blue door where hay was
tossed in for the winter.

Uncle Ben, with his gentle face
and tremoring hands, shook all the days
I knew him and Annie, his stout, kind-hearted
wife, played the most bingo cards, fiercely,
of anyone I ever knew.

There was aunt Lizzie with her wide smile,
though mostly toothless, most of the time,
uncle Albert, the town elbow bender,
and sweet, worried Helene, his twin,
who married Joseph, a black-haired, ornery
devil of a man, still riding his Harley at eighty.

Fastidious Henry I never knew, but became
acquainted with his ancient, perfect Oldsmobile
that resided in the barn among nesting chickens
when it was rescued by my stepfather
who taught me to drive in it, that long
gear shift lever rising up from the floor
squealing and grinding at my touch, till
I imagined uncle Henry spinning in his grave.

Pete and August and Jules, the baby,
I didn't know well, but who could forget
Ruby and Pearl, who once had a fight
in the funeral home as their sister Jessie's
body lay in the casket over who was going
to remove and wear her glasses, because
she wouldn't need them where she was going,

and last comes my beloved Clarence, the
stepdad who never went beyond eighth grade
but ran a farm, a grocery and bootleg whiskey
to put food on the table in the Depression
and loved my mother like no one ever had.

Some good and gentle days these old ones
come to you, if you're lucky, like this fine
afternoon at a concert in Heritage Square
(music, if nothing else, calls them back)
where Miss Gypsy Blue is wailing her songs
and I'm sitting in the sun in my western town,
while spring winds whistle down
from steep mountain passes
and light touches me, tenderly, for a moment,
then disappears into the high blue beyond.

- mimi


Post a Comment

<< Home