Business and domesticity
Unevenly share space
Mom and I work at home.
Like the wildflowers (we’ll call them that)
Rooming with bulbs planted by Great-granny Snider
Work spreads full and thick
Through plots of time meant for dusting.
I belong to the savvy survivor, thriver, and like her
My garden gets cluttered
My closets are packed
We smile and say they resemble our brains
Full of color and curl
If you wait long enough to clean
It feels like shopping–
Old items await rediscovery.
Business and domesticity take turns
Today, after a meeting
I spent my lunch break
Cleaning and cooking bacon
Onions, potatoes, a jalapeño
The breeze took the scent
Out my open screens and my heart went
To the tiny kitchen by the Admiral Twin
With the original cabinets from 1952,
Summers when Wendy and I played in the water hose
While Grandma Colleen cooked with bacon grease.
I never knew fried potatoes and a breeze
Could make a girl younger
But there I was, hearing music and machines
And Grandpa’s shout from the garage that still fills my dreams
I belong to love that lasts, gentle patience and daily laughs.
Business gave way at 6pm
When I heard Grandma Roberta sing
And followed her voice
Not to heaven, where I’m sure
Her new body has extra fingers and feet
To fly along the organ keys
No, I’m not there yet, but I followed her song
To the garden
And felt strong
Put on my tough gloves
Uncovered the dainty, choking bulbs.
Bag after bag of weeds
And her freckled forearms rippled from my sleeves to my wrists
I belong to the strong, earthy, eternal
Who left her song in my garden tonight.
The women in my life have made the mundane memorable. My mother’s been a creative entrepreneur since I was in middle school. When I was growing up, my Grandma Colleen wrote me letters, just to stay in touch. Those letters went something like, “I did two loads of laundry. I’ll start the ironing in a little bit…” I can’t iron without thinking of her, and it drives me nuts that my laundry room never smells as nice as hers. I spent summers with her, and I lived with Grandma Roberta in high school. One day during my senior year, a boy came to visit. I asked if he wanted to meet Grandma ‘Berta. He said, “Sure, where is she?”
“Outside using a chainsaw to cut down tree limbs.” He chose to wait for another time.
The spring Grandma Colleen passed away, I wrote a book using the pictures she’d given me and the stories Grandpa Fred told. I gave it to Grandpa Fred for his birthday, and it was one of the best nights of my life. My life is a sketch colored in by those I love, past and present. There are so many more unrecorded family stories that my friends Donna Branch and Jennifer Owens and I are starting a series of family books. Once we’ve tested our program and created our own story collections, we’ll be inviting you to join us. Start taking notes!