A shingled cottage with four rooms
down, three up, where Gramma
finished raising her daughters
lives in my memory.
The hand pump for water
is right outside the main door.
The outhouse, for two, is down
the slope from the kitchen porch.
The low dirt cellar for keeping food
is several steps down from the kitchen
where a cast-iron range for cooking
whatever food’s available stands.
Bare wires run up walls and across
to ceiling center to light a bare bulb.
In winter a potbellied stove eats coal
and glows so red everyone near sweats,
while heat flees up the shallow treads
of stairs so narrow it’s another flue,
the reason the stair door is closed.
While still a child, my parents insist
a gas heater be installed as safer
for small children. A refrigerator,
to keep the children’s milk cold,
follows a few years later.
When I was a teenager, the floor
of the living room began to sag,
but we all soon learned to skirt it.
After I was grown and working far away,
the roof of the enclosed porch off the back,
that smelled of dressed birds, fur pelts,
and mice, fell in; its walls soon followed.
EDUCATION IN MOURNING
The Sugar Maple withered and died.
The Norway Spruce was torn
from the ground by tornado winds.
Flowers do not last,
the grass browns, the earth buries
and snow covers over. Waiting
for the renewal of Spring.
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