Homesick

What is there to love
In orange carpeted stairs,
In heat of summer sun and air unconditioned,
In front-porch bricks callousing bare toes?

This is the drawer that always held the donuts,
This the dry summer grass where we drove the lawn mower,
And here the ice cream machine whirred and rumbled–
Creating cool sweetness for waiting lips.

What is there to miss
In a bathtub with no shower,
In mosquitoes swarming through torn screen at night,
In fighting over the covers as crickets sang their lullaby?

This is the banister where we hung our towels,
These the steps where we sat to watch the Amish riding by,
And here the little shelves that held the knick-knacks–
Inspiration for stories told on long hot summer nights.

What is there to grieve
In a back porch full of borrowed Barbies,
In Grandma’s nebulizer singing its morning wake-up to her lungs,
In waking on the hide-a-bed to the smell of coffee brewing?

This is where the back door key was hidden,
This where the table with the candy dish should be,
And here where all the memories hung–
Now boxed up, moved for the best, sold to another.

What is there to mourn
In the place where the green recliner sat,
In mantel devoid of Hummel figurines,
In long hardwood hallway deprived of the rug always there before?

This is where we came in for late-night hugs after long, long drives,
This is where Grandpa watched the weather channel,
Here the oven where years of meals and desserts baked–
Grandma’s love in consumable form.

Just the fragments of a childhood full of memories–
Summers and Christmases and long tired drives to reach happiness–
Grandpa watching the weather channel in his old recliner,
Grandma fussing in the kitchen.

Put the sign in its yard, box the dishes and the pictures and the pieces of years well spent.
Move near a son, where you are safe and cared for.
I understand.

And yet I am homesick.

********

Written for Nancy’s “homesick” prompt on her blog, Just Say the Word, and at the Cunning Poets Society.

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17 thoughts on “Homesick

  1. When I think of my grandmother’s house — oh, the memories. The sheep she kept in the back yard to eat the grass (so she wouldn’t need to mow), the divinity fudge she made, the upright piano on which she played her hymns (all memorized — she couldn’t read a single note of music, like her grandson). Oh boy, the memories this poem engenders.

  2. Aw, my goodness…this is lovely.
    Love the layout. the imagery. I could see it and smell it.
    This is a great piece.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. You’ve captured well the jarred memories we all have of the grandparents’ house. Mine are of making applesauce, crabapple fights in the backyard with the cousins, climbing up a forbidden attic staircase to find treasures… you have got me going! Great poem.

  4. Oh, I can feel this. Beautiful poem. And I am transported to the duplex in Andersonville and smell cinnamin rolls baking and remember drinking Ovaltine at my Grandma’s kitchen table…

  5. And these glimpses of beauty live on in memories.

    I so enjoyed this one, Erin. It does make me homesick. Longing to have a memory such as this…both of my grandmothers died when I was too young. I have few memories of one and none of the other.

    Treasure this.

  6. oh my heart is aching…
    for you. for my own memories of a place that was more than a building.
    but these words… make even the grief beautiful…

  7. This was extraordinary, Erin.
    I’m so glad you have those memories. And will pass down the spirit of them to your beautiful children.
    I have such voids when it comes to things like this, and I am homesick for what never was.

  8. I had just one home from the time I was born until I went away to college and my family moved to Florida. I went back a few years after I graduated. It was a house no longer my home that had been such a gathering place when we were all so young.

    Your poem evoked a sense of loss I had not experienced in a long time.

    Hold your memories dear.

  9. many of these words could be mine (if i could formulate them so beautifully). this is lovely, erin.

    i lived with my g-parents till i was 6, then they shared custody of my sis and i. their home was the only home i knew. and i loved it’s orange carpet, hide-n-seek behind g-pa’s chair, the dish of brach’s candy, waiting for the ice cream truck, and my garden back yard.

    just last week my husband brought home some italian parsley, the bag smelled like that back yard. and for a moment, with my eyes closed, nose in a plastic bag of italian parsley, i was 4, and home.

    we are blessed to have such memories in our g-parent’s and the homes they shared with us.
    may our own grandchildren be so blessed.

    and may you find your head in a bag of your own italian parsley, and find yourself by God’s grace back there for a moment from time to time.

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