Every second Sunday in August
Arriving straight after church
Family reunion potluck picnic.
Women in bright silky dresses
Flip open their wicker baskets
Spread the rough tables with cloth
Fill the long rectangles with bowls
Salads, beans, rainbows of Jello
Platters loaded with chicken or ham
Apple and berry and apricot pies
Midnights of dark chocolate cream
For the nourishment of our bodies.
Too full! the men moan after dinner
Only the women stay on their feet
A whole year of news to be had
Geneva, the eldest, Aunts Mandy
And Della, nieces Vera and Esther
Rhett and Sally—married brothers.
A circle of women wide enough
To round it all into a yeasty dough
Punching the air out and kneading
White rye bread and needlepoint
Tatted Roses and crocheted lilies
How to raise eggplant and cabbage.
Oh! Their barn burned to the ground
And say, how is Dave’s leg these days?
Well, in the end his heart just gave out.
Hands to cheeks, eyes lifted on high
Only Mama gazing down
Inspecting the smatters of clover
Hearty as weeds in the grass.
She’ll step aside for moment
Pluck out a four-leafed gem
And when I’m tired of playing
She’ll scoop me close to her side
Look here, she’ll say
Handing her luck to me.
At the preschool with my grandson
We ate our turkey and cranberry
And relished the pumpkin pie.
He paused outside the playground
Where his everyday life went on.
His little hands grasped my arm
And kisses flowed from his lips
His very muscles remembering
His baby naps, asleep on my chest
While I waited to feel his waking
His stout little neck springing up
His heavy head bob-bobbling
Blue eyes slowly gathering in
Whatever the world offered.
At the sandbox where he shovels
Sand flew into his waiting pail
Until he looked up to make sure
I was still there, but he could see
Me only as a blackened shadow
Backlit by the radiant sun.
I feared he’d see me monstrous
But he only blinked and settled
Once more the shovel flying
As I waited to see his castle
Built on the strength of love.