I loved the creosote smell of the timbers that shored up
The dirt walls of the hillside.
The carton of frames of unsmiling children
1st grade, 1st grade, 2nd grade
The scrubbed, serious faces of 1921, 1922, 1923
The plain serious face of my young teacher grandmother
Off to the side
I loved th breakfront of mildewed books
Their clammy covers, the damp pages of poetry and prose
The stacks of the Evening News bundled in string
My editor grandfather's mouse-chewed archives
Two cardboard trunks, the sides soft and bowed,
A fringe of yellow lace caught in the closing
Carpet sweepers, rows of jars, a box of rusted lids
One small shoebox of report cards--names I did not know
"They didn't come that last day," my grandmother said.
A cradle, doll-size, a tattered blanket in blue, but no doll.
"That belonged to your mother." And I saw my mother
For the first time as a child, a child whose photo
Had not been taken, no birthday cakes flashed oto film
I went back to the carton of frames in search of her
Small face--1st grade, 2nd grade--I thought I saw
Aunt Roberta's round cheeks but I couldn't be sure.
No had written the anmes L to R on the back.