Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Hour Under the Weeping Willow of Remembrance

The scent - green and khaki-striped canvas
mixed with my Grandma's sweet peas,
the willow branches forming an arch of sanctuary,
lake breezes, bullrushes and the fresh scent
of summer mornings
when I was a child
at Grandma's house,
all those summers that were a time out of time,
endless and blue-skied
in memory.

When the adults came,
then ice cubes tinkled,
and there were many trips
back and forth to the kitchen
while my Grandma and I withdrew
to the back porch,
akin in our dislike of the sound of ice cubes
clinking in tall glasses
of amber brew.

Happy Hour stayed happy
for maybe an hour,
and then voices grew louder,
old wrongs were aired,
and people had trouble
with their feet
on the way to the kitchen.

Weep, Willow, for all those long-gone days,
for the people who lived those turbulent love stories,
for their passage made the best they knew how,
for all the love and pain and human misery
that dogged their paths
and kept their lives from peace.

Weep for the silent big-eyed children,
ghosts who dared not speak,
who were banished out of sight as the nights came on,
who carry the legacy
of those years
for the rest of their lives,
a burden that lifts
once they learn compassion
for the struggling travelers without road maps
who were their people then.

If there were a Tree of Forgetting,
I would go there
and, most days, I do.
But when it comes to remembering,
it is the weeping willow tree
and my Grandma's
little cottage on Christleton Avenue
where I hung my childhood,
leaving it there for safekeeping
at summer's end,
picking it up again
like a second set of clothes,
when I returned.

It was my own years of searching
and anguish
that taught me forgiveness.
I laid it all to rest
and created a peaceful refuge
for my own grandchildren,
as the circle of the generations
turns and turns.

Process Notes: Lately, I have added to my list of Must-Reads a book called Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, by Alexandra Fuller - a stellar title, and one that immediately took me back to my childhood. In my case, my memory flies back to the weeping willow tree in my Grandma's back yard. It is the tree I hang my childhood on. My Grandma's was the place of safety and refuge that lent calm and  stability to a life that was volatile and unpredictable at home, given we are a family riddled with addictions. I was the child of a generation that drank, with all that goes along with that.


  1. Sherry,

    A most delightful piece of writing. It took me 'into that world' much removed from the pace of life and living today.
    Thank you for sharing these memories.
    Hope all is good with you. Winter is just around the corner, AGAIN!!!How fast has 2011 passed??
    Best wishes, Eileen :)

  2. It's so good to read that you broke the cycle Sherry. Sometimes we just keep repeating over and over. It sounds as if your grandmother was a lovely influence in your young life in those days. Such wonderful memories she left you with of sights and smells and, love.

  3. This is such a wonderful poem, I felt sad for the child, and happy that forgiveness has come - not easily achieved, I know. A weeping willow sounds just the sort of tree one could hang one's childhood on, bury one's grievances under. I have always felt a strong affinity for weeping willows as well.

  4. OMG, We had a weeping willow in the backyard of our Kansas City, Kansas home when I was in the fourth grade. One day my brother threw a railroad spike up into the air with a rope tied around it so he could make a tire swing. It glanced off my head, my grandmother smothered my wound with Vaseline, and I'm still here to this day, to talk about it. Unfortunately my brother passed last December right before Christmas. This was a wonderful poem, Goddess.

  5. Wow, Sherry. This really got to me. Thank heaven for grandmothers.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. Today I was also thinking of my grandmother and the big tree at their home.But unlike you, I am remembering that tree more than my grandma for that tree was soo dear to me. when I recollect those days I think I was eager to visit her every summer to climb and sit on that also I wish to touche the branches, feels at peace when I am on that....
    SO nostalgic memories....

  7. you are really working on your art - excellent idea

  8. I commend you for being able to put childhood things to rest, Sherry. When I took a college freshman psych class, the professor had us read a book called THE ART OF GROWING. I still remember a quote, at least paraphrased: "It may be our parents' fault that we are the way we are, but OUR fault if we stay that way." I have thought about this so many times over the years when people have blamed their childhood, their parents, etc. for their present life. You are a strong woman, Sherry.

  9. Haven't visited for awhile and am still in a wonder of your writing so very poignant. This piece creates my own memory of family gatherings. You seem as close to your grandmother as I was to my own.

  10. You had me under my favorite tree, the sights and scents. Then at some of my parent's parties. I can see the feet and the dance of deception laced with liquor.
    I am sorry your had to retreat and be ghost like, hiding in the shadows. xXx
    Your writing is haunting and beautiful~


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