Cricket, the white senior dog,
listening to my poems
about aging gratefully.
like she was adjudicating
and slightly weary.
Inspired by the line from Joy Sullivan's poem Wood Frog that is italicized.
In your next letter, would you let me know
if the A&W is still open at Shops Capri?
Someone would pick me up in a 1955 Chevvy
that smelled of leather, talcum powder,
and whatever guys put on their duck tails
back then. First, we'd drive up one side
of Bernard Avenue, through City Park, then
back the other side, seeing and being seen.
Then we'd pull in to the A&W, and girls
on roller skates would come out, take our order,
attach a tray to the side window, and bring us
our hamburgers and shakes. Boys used to marvel
at how small I was, yet how much food
I put away. They didn't know I went hungry
When you write, tell me if you remember
the days when we wrote letters back and forth
all the time, fat envelopes stuffed with
page upon page of our daily doings,
the substance of our lives. How I wish
I had some of those letters now.
Back then, stamps cost just pennies and
letters arrived the next day. Then automation
took over. The cost of a stamp is now a dollar ten,
and letters take over a week to go a hundred miles.
They call it progress.
Do you remember what a big deal it was
when the "floating bridge" replaced the ferries,
and how a tired doctor, driving home across the lake,
didn't see the span was up, and plunged into the lake?
Do you remember how, on soft summer evenings,
the streets were scented with roses, sweet pea,
pinks, wisteria and lilac? How full of romantic
dreams I was back then, waiting for my life
to begin, when all would magically come right
after so much painful confusion. Do you
remember the letters I wrote you later,
dismayed with what happened instead,
but had to live it anyway with as much humour
as I could muster?
When you write, tell me what you remember
of those sweet sad, funny times, as we look back
with wise grey heads, laugh lines and hearts
full of secret tears, reflecting on how little
we knew back then, and grateful that
we made it through not too badly, after all,
* Inspired by Mary's poem with the same title, which can be read here.
When you tell a story, be sure to include
the little things: the way you walked past wisteria
the other day, and had to stop and bury your face
in the blooms, such a heavenly scent, and how
it made you remember the pinks and sweet peas
in your grandmother's garden. And you wonder
why none of the nurseries carry pinks any more,
when it is the only plant you want.
Remember to describe how the harbour looked,
that misty morning, with fog and cloud wisping
on Wah'nah'juss, how you had climbed the trail,
and turned, and been flooded with awe and joy
at how beautiful it was, and how happy you were here,
small boats chugging busily across the bay
from Opitsaht, and how you watch
in case a pod of orcas come by, as they do
now and then, and you are so rarely in the right place
when it happens. But you remember the grey afternoon
when a family of greys were at the rubbing beach
off Tlaakasiis, and an eagle landed just feet away
to eat some fishy thing he found onshore.
Our days are made up of such moments,
and they colour our lives with green and sea
and sky. Wherever we are, it isnt the big things:
the promotion, the man you loved so much
who came and went, the things you bought
(and disposed of). It's the memory of grandchildren
giggling wildly in the back seat as their brother's
ice cream fell off its cone and dribbled down his shirt,
and you were driving down the highway
and couldnt help, so all you could do was laugh
and shake your head, helplessly, at the joy of it;
it's the way Pup would sit, his stare focused
on the grandsons, eating hot dogs around the fire
down by the creek, and the way those gigantic
old oak trees curved their branches over us
in protection. It's the way I looked up at the stars
those late nights, walking old dogs along the road,
the way the lights shone so warm and cozy
inside my little trailer, and how I knew
that I was Home.
I do miss that trailer. I loved it there.