The Memoir Project Poetry Prompt:
Write a poem about how the past is reinvented
through memory, through writing.
I remember me …
at 8 years old.
I feel puzzled.
It was not a time I can
remember having any
aspirations except to
be friends with Debbie.
It was expected that in 1952
a young girl would grow up
and marry and have a family.
I was an obedient child
and just accepted that
was my fate in life.
It’s hard to remember…
it was sort of an odd
vanilla swirl sort of time.
I’d been an only child
til I was six and then
my brother came along.
After two years,
I resented his presence
and all the attention he got.
The vanilla was my friend Debbie,
who lived across the street.
Her dad had a grocery store,
they were Catholic
(Oh, NO !) and
we did not go to church
but considered the family
to be Lutheran.
In that day and age,
where I lived in Wisconsin,
the two were not supposed
to be friends, date or
Debbie’s family was liberal
and allowed us to play
together and my parents
just monitored to be sure
I wasn’t “indoctrinated” … Sigh.
The only thing I remember about
was on Saturday afternoon,
she had to go to “confession”
and I would sit on the steps
of the church and wait for her.
I couldn’t figure what one would
confess, that was a wonder to me,
but if she had to do it,
I accepted it.
Debbie and I had run of the town
checked out abandoned houses,
rode our bikes,
had matching dolls
… with real rooted hair.
My guess is that
I didn’t like that we
had the same doll, …
I cut the hair off the doll at the roots !
All these memories
have me feeling puzzled…
My most clear moments
are of playing,
not liking my brother,
and wondering why everyone else
wasn’t up and out at 7 am !
I already knew the drill
of being a housewife:
Monday: wash clothes; mini-clean the house*
Tuesday:iron; mini-clean the house
Wednesday: wash sheets: mini-clean the house
Thursday: iron sheets; mini-clean the house
Friday shop: for groceries: mini-clean the house
Saturday: clean the house,
including floors and windows,
(living room windows were washed inside,
and outside weather permitting).
Baked coffee cakes and Parker House rolls.
Sunday: we didn’t go to church;
it was a Sunday Dinner,
women did the dishes,
men listened to the radio all ball games…
my dad went to work often;
since being a manager of Woolworth’s
the work was never done,
always something to do.
The “swirl” was my brother…
He caused me a lot of distress…
My plans to be married,
of course included children…
I do have two children ,
I thought they’d be compliant,
obedient like me…HA !
…accepting what ever I was told,
followed the rules,
didn’t question out loud…
It wasn’t encouraged,
and if I did, I was told,
all families were like ours.
So, I would guess,
by 8 years old,
I started to wonder
about why other children
didn’t get in trouble if they
asked questions, argued,
or why theirparents
still loved them
if they rebelled or disobeyed.
I don’t remember
but I do remember
about why my family rules
were different than other families…
Sigh. Big Sigh.
* “mini-clean” the house.
My mother kept an immaculate house
…each day she made the beds,
straightened the bed rooms,
even mine and my brother’s.
On Saturday and Sunday,
when there was no school,
I made my bed,
(the correct way…there was
only one way for abed to be made
according to my mother,…
I stillknow the “rules”)
My mother would check to
be sure the bed was correctly made.
The room was neatened to my mother’s satisfaction.
Each day there was no clutter…toys picked up at
meal time. Hobbies were clutter, but we learned to
play card games at an early age. Dishes were always
done, and no dishes in the sink, counter cleaned off.
Kitchen floor swept after meals. Newspaper in the
magazine rack til the next day or after my father
had read it. Magazines were considered clutter so
the occasional magazine would be in the rack for
a short time.
There’s more…but it is too weird for y’all to believe!
Martha Stewart would have been able to pass inspection
on each room every day.
written Sat, 13 Oct 2012. Edited 16 January 2013.
Thinking long and hard
I often wondered where
my wonder went.
It seemed to be missing.
Others saw wonder in
sunsets and babies,
music and art.
Wonder in the everyday.
I felt so “bland”
And THEN, I was
almost literally blind.
First I was blind of
heart and soul.
Blind of emotions
One day a few years
ago, I didn’t recognize
the face in the mirror.
Who is that old woman ?
Driving, I couldn’t find
my daughter’s driveway
…oldest granddaughter said..
“Let me out, I’ll walk back”!
Hurried to the eye doctor he said,
my vision was the same, BUT..
I had severe cataracts.
Like looking thru thick waxed paper.
One eighth wonder of the world:
the medical minds that
figured out how to make
the instruments so tiny.
How can someone figure
out not only HOW to do
the surgery, but make the
precise instruments to do it.
The mind is the eighth wonder,
in particular the minds that
gave me the gift of WONDER
with eyesight better than at birth.
I now sound like a Louie Armstrong
song speaking of what I can see:
birds in trees, deer in the forests,
The tiniest flowers beautiful designs.
I wondered all these years
and couldn’t see what was right
in front of my eyes. Wonder:
the gift of physicians, inventors.
My wonder of wonders
solved ten fold. Miracles around
me to see…making up for lost time.
Thanks Be to God. Hallelujah !
It’s a Wonderful World
LYRICS: Songwriters: GEORGE DAVID WEISS,
GEORGE DOUGLAS, BOB THIELE
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.
wondering what I had done
I tried to write to fit the Mama Zen request.
She asked we write about what is difficult
to write about….some emotions escape me
when writing. For me emotions, especially
recognizing happiness and love are difficult.
The words escape me for expressions
of love in poetry … more than the basic
overused words and expressions
for Words Count with the Mama Zen,
at Real Toads. She asks for the stuff
that is difficult to write.
breezy spring like day
Canadian cold air soon
can keep cold weather