Unsettling In

“They settle into the seats around me⁠
and make themselves comfortable.⁠
They nudge, prod and poke ⁠
but I ignore them.⁠
The memories want me ⁠
to pay them attention⁠
to take me somewhere I’ve already been⁠
and don’t care to go back to.⁠
They speed me down the track⁠
faster than this train is accustomed,⁠
faster than I can put a stop to.”⁠

The first memory is safe.⁠

(Edited excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper)📕⁠
The photo was taken a year ago during my visit to Italy.🇮🇹 ⁠
I do hope, that in reality, this young woman’s memories were good ones.🙏🏽⁠

The Peach Stand

Sweat puddles and drips down to her seven-year-old feet

like the ice cream will soon do.

A sweltering Texas summer.

Grandpa grins through his cigar, proud of his summer income.

Peaches in boxes and sacks.

Peaches in crates

lined up on tables beneath his covered stand.

A pocketknife cuts off a slice of sweet fruit

and extends toward a willing customer.

Grandpa smiles again, pleased with the satisfaction on the consumer’s juiced face.

The ancient Black man, mouth empty of teeth, dismounts his horse.

Grandpa readies a fresh peach. “Afternoon, Washington.”

Washington nods, mumbles, shows his gums.

Grandpa adds another peach to his hand. “Take these for your ride to town.”

The man smacks his curved-in lips together,

up and down, up and down,

a toothless man’s “thank you.”

The walk-in cooler an instant relief.

But the bushels of peaches offer no jokes,

no grins,

no Grandpa conversations.

Outside, parched again, she accepts the quarter and returns Grandpa’s smile.

A short walk toward the small diner.

The lady in a pink uniform and matching hat says, “Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?”

“Strawberry.”

The ice cream, scooped. The cone, topped with a pink, cold delight.

Fifty steps back to the peach stand.

Fifty steps back to Grandpa.

The ice cream drips and threatens to disappear.

But the heat is no match for Grandpa’s disposition.

His smile and character remains solid, strong, and real.

Un-meltable.

Peach stand

(photo of Grandpa taken in the early sixties)

 

 

 

 

Before Amber Alerts

She was told how fun it would be to watch the parade in small town Fredericksburg, Texas. “Exciting for a four-year-old.”

“Look at that float!” “Carolyn, do you see the clown?”

No. All she saw was the backsides of wiggly people in front of her. The tall, thin man’s suspenders holding up the back of his pants. Arms that pointed to the sky holding miniature American flags.

But she could see behind her – from the grassy field all the way up to the sky.

And there it was. Something she could lay eyes on. Something she found curious and exciting.

She let go of the hem of her grandmother’s, hand-sewn, polka-dot house dress and began to run.

How did he get up there?

Would the man hurt himself when landed?

She continued on, her eyes following the man’s decent from the sky.

The pokey grass would not deter her. Nor the buzzing of summer wasps around her head. The near collisions with jumping grasshoppers were not a distraction.

The man was getting closer.

Panting, yet familiar voices frantically called her name.

When her parents and sister caught up to her, Carolyn pointed to the man.

They were right.

Exciting for a four-year-old.

me parachute

Maybe Tomorrow

She chokes on the water and knows what she needs. A concession stand with vending machines.

A flimsy cup no bigger than the size of her small hand drops to the tray and is filled with soda, carbonated water, and ice. A Bruce’s fried pie (lemon or apple, please). An ice-cream sandwich melts instant chocolate on her fingers.

She musters up courage and waits in line for the high dive. Children chatter with excitement, with anticipation. But Sparky Carolyn stays quiet in her nervousness. Perhaps she’s not so sparky after all.

It’s her turn. She makes it up the tall ladder. Her toes rest on the end of the board.

She looks down. It’s a long way to the water.

“Hurry up!” Someone yells.

I’ll go down too far. I’ll run out of air on the way back up.

She backs up and returns to the ladder. Children sigh at having to move aside. She reaches the safety of the flat, hot concrete.

Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow.

Back in the safety of the three-feet depth, she rejoins her friends. She sips tea and eats crumpets under water like a queen. The three girls resurface and giggle at their immense creativity.

“Don’t worry. One day you’ll wake up to find they’ve grown.”

She looks at her friend, then down at her own flat chest.

Tomorrow. Maybe it will happen tomorrow.

 

nw pool

“Me” at Northwest Pool in Austin, Texas. (1950-60’s)

THIS IS NOT MY BRAIN ON DRUGS

This is Mary Jane.

mary jane in skivvies

 

She is a paper doll created by Milton Bradley Co. in the 1950’s.

This is me, created by Mom and Dad in the 1950’s.

Scan

This is Paper Doll Me created by, well, me a few days ago.

 Me in skivviesWhy a paper doll? Why here? Why now?

So, this isn’t my brain on drugs. This is my brain “memory sparking”. I think I’ll call her  “Paper Doll Sparky”. Maybe “P.D. Sparky” for short. Or “Sparky” for shorter.

 

 

I can tell by looking at her that me, I mean Sparky, and Mary Jane wouldn’t have had a lot in common back then. Not that you should judge someone by appearance but she looks like Miss Goody Two-Shoes. I bet she followed all the rules and never once tried to do something new, challenging or creative.

Too bad, so sad.

I bet she never once hid in a gutter, yelled at her mother, or grew to get caught by the principal for smoking cigarettes in the girls bathroom in middle school (we called it Junior High back then).

In fact, she looks just like Lori, the tattle tale girl who ratted me out for lying to my mother when I was five.

So, I stole, I mean borrowed, some of Mary Jane’s clothes. They are mine now and Sparky can wear them for better purposes than to have mundane tea parties with preppy little girls who never climb trees or scrape their knees.

But don’t let the clothes fool you. Wearing one of Mary Jane’s prim and proper dresses won’t take the girl out of her true skin. (Besides, she’s made out of cardboard).

She’s packing up now, getting ready to see what kind of troubles her memories will stir up.  As Dad used to say, “Time to separate the sheep from the goats.”

 

 

You comin’?

me green dress.png

To be continued …

 

 

Make it Your Goal

girl-lying-on-the-grass-1741487_960_720

If out of nowhere you smell chicken soup

do you conjure up the memory of someone trying to make you feel better?

If you lay on the grass,

do you see your childhood friends beside you, giggling as a puppy licks your toes?

If you hear the coo of the mourning dove

are you transported back into the bed at your grandparent’s house laying peacefully under the quilted covers?

When you see a child squeal with happiness

are you remembering unwrapping your stuffed purple and pink cow that special Christmas Eve?

 

Memories are precious

Our goal is to have many more good ones than bad.

via Conjure

image from Pixabay