Friday, September 26, 2008

a house on 82nd street

This photo was taken in 1941. It is of my cousin, Eileen, and she is standing in front of my grandmother's house. As I grew up, we often visited my grandmother who lived in that house until her death. It's still there and and for many years after the house was sold I would drive to Brooklyn and see the family who bought the house. They would graciously allow me in, and as I walked through the house I was always filled with memories that came flooding back.

Long ago...
A child rested on a maroon sofa
In the still musty living room
Of her grandmother’s house.
The house was decorated with gold tassels
And white lace and starched doilies...
And it trapped a scent of burnt potato pancakes.
At night, the ghosts of ancestors sucked the juice
From the peaches of a backyard tree.

A fake fireplace electrically glowed
Orange-yellowish and whispered in
All seasons the child was home.
On a maroon table, sat an
Incandescent pink seashell...
“Hold it to your ear and you can hear
The sounds of the ocean,” ventriloquists urged.

The steady whir and flutter of the slats
Of off-white Venetian blinds lulled her
As chill winds passed through Brooklyn.

At dusk, the front door opened and
A man, wearing gray and gray,
Silently traipsed through the house
To “his room” and he closed “his door.”
He was home, too.

The grandmother called the man
Just “the boarder.”
The child only glanced up as he passed and
He never spoke to her... nor she to him.

On the clearest of days she cannot even recall
His face... yet she stares at him whenever chill
Winds pass through Manhattan.

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