Prose Poem: This House

This House ~ photo by Teresa Young

On how improbably healing can begin

Compared to decades of perfect color photos of our suburban family abodes, all piled pillows and ornate round tables with little room for a glass (and coaster, thank you), this place shows like an old monochrome of rural life. It’s a manufactured home (not a trailer, thank you) that houses against all odds my mother’s massive china cabinet (now a living room bar) and pine hutch (for easy kitchen liquor access), but precious little else she would flag as suitable decor with Post-its in the stacks of Southern Living and French Country mags that I tenderly fingered page by page after she died in the 2-story house my father detested. It all went to GoodWill and auction just as this clean old 2-acre canvas hit the market, and my father has herein now officially survived the burn pile of primal rage that roiled under his good-man approach to 61 years of marriage. Now the shotgun and snake stick in the front corner, formerly forbidden kitty mistress, paper plates and plastic utensils mean stasis can beget change none of us offspring ever imagined, and grief and relief can co-exist like an old married couple way past the good times.

 

Allen Avenue Memory, 1960

Rainy front porch,
tiny bikini, stomping, splashing,
baby brother laughing.

Sugary grits my ticket
out the door, mama’s smile
more good-girl reward.

Brother swings sideways,
back, around, baby toes wiggly
on puddly ground.

Sun breaks in and rainbow rises
off shimmery road
beyond wet lawn.

Rainy front porch,
tiny bikini, stomping, splashing,
baby brother laughing.

 

Downtown Today

Downtown again,
but not the rainbows and fireworks world
of the 5-year-old I was,
hungry and happy for every view and vibe,
for the sights and sounds
of all things day
and night.

Downtown that day,
my mother and me,
he jangled by, too close,
with something so askew that I turned
and caught his awful smile
as his head spun 360 degrees
over and over.
(Really.)

Time and I froze,
my mother unaware and impatient
for the next store window and sale,
and I knew better
than to tell her
or anybody
ever.

But downtown today,
all these strange decades later,
I’ve decided to tell the woman she was.
If such a day so long ago was real (it was)
then I’ll damn well draw her to me
from beyond the veil
with all that I never said
and listen and wait
for time she may be ready to take
and for whatever she may
be ready
to say.