My youngest girl asks for stories—
Real stories tonight, she says, not
made-up. Like what I did, summers when
I was her age: mornings with the wash billowing
on the line, evenings too humid for clothes
but too buggy for bare skin (smolder and fume
of mosquito coils in terra cotta dishes).
And so I tell her again of sandals kicked off
on the wooden porch, reading Gasoline Alley
and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in
the Sunday paper, while eating mouth-
puckering green plums dipped in salt
and sugar. Sputter and flare of kerosene
lamps, lizards skittering across living
room walls. Strident cry of a black and
orange rooster tied to the tree in
the yard (its heaped bones decorate
lunch plates the next day). I have
nostalgia for these things, not
necessarily for their pieties.
And she, she wants to smell
the camphor escaping from ancient
wardrobes I pry open; wants to taste,
along with me, the star-shaped indentation
on my father’s pinky finger where the nail
should have been; to imagine the ghost nun’s
shadow beside the bell-pull at school,
summoning souls from the other side.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.