The First


I am not the first nor are you the last child of a child.

Yanked into this world with love you are more tiny and more precious then I could ever imagine and yet contain a love so large.

The hard old soul of me is cracked and washed anew in a baptism of tears so spontaneous I have no idea where they came from.

And now hundreds of miles away from you I cry again to hold you, to touch you, to smell and adore you.

My Grandmother’s House


My dreams are the source of poetry.

Last night I purchased my grandmother’s home. Built in 1880, it’s Victorian darkness is my heart home. Last night in dreams, I walked the rooms, pointing out in each, memorable architectural elements, evidence of the house’s provenance.

Though the front of the house was obscured by a mundane commercial facade and an insurance office crammed with desks occupied the formal rooms, traces showed. The tall radiators were still in place and the French windows onto the porch were there and I knew it was the parlor.

My vision added more volume to the house.

There were tracks in the floor where large paneled doors slid, dividing one large room into small ones. A Victorian emulation of Japanese shoji screens.

Wandering the vast spaces, I tried to determine where to place my bed, finding several suitable rooms.

The Butler’s pantry with its cubbyholes and narrow shelves and enameled counters was entirely the figment of my dream as it never existed in life. I envisioned using it to prepare pies, store groceries. Though I was confounded to learn that a renter lived in it and I could not use it.

I added a non-existent screened porch around the perimeter of the house, complete with Chinese-style fretwork trim superimposed in the field of the screens. On each rail there was a collection of miniature porcelain, reminding me of her collections. Annotations on the rails told me the items were placed there by another in tribute to her.

At last I was seated with a crowd unknown people present for a business event. They did not know who I was and did not know the house was now mine. One wondered if foul play was responsible for Mrs. Compton’s demise as she passed away in her bed at the age of 95. Speaking up, I said it was her own will. On Thanksgiving Day after turkey consumed and adult grandchildren departed she stated, “I’ll not get back up out of this bed until they carry me out feet first.” And she didn’t.

Opening my eyes I see the brilliant cut-crystal powder jar, once hers, which I cherish. Then rolling over, I looked across the room and see her former dining room mirror. Tall with a rounded top, it originally was the tilting mirror for a vanity, re-purposed, it hung on her dining room wall. It hangs today, by the same wires, upon my wall.

In my kitchen I put away dishes and my hand lingers on the blue transferware plate from which I enjoy my breakfast. And my eyes fall on the napkin holder, a painted tin container she used just as I do, its image of Raby Castle inviting me to other flights of fantasy.

These talismans of her life embedded in my own summon her to me. Her spirit suffuses each item. No haunting, more a loving. Her tender affection surrounds me and buoys my life in her death. I find her with me. And I am loved.