My grandmother shows me my first yellow rose, pale – called Moonlight Glow –
which she tends by the stone wall beyond the old, old house.
I shut tight my eyes to see us both in the afternoon light.
There’s a tale of Bereft in that house which doesn’t yet speak of Grandpa naked
in the garden, hosing off the sweat and grit of splitting wood. Look! There’s my
mother in a red blouse stamping her foot, in tears by the kitchen door. She and
her father are both yelling.
I tilt my head at the phoebe’s call, cuss out woodchucks in the field
before Bereft catches up with me and slips its dry arm around my shoulders.
Late summer cricket song and the cistern of spring water with its graniteware
dipper. The scent of apples being cored, chopped then stewed for applesauce
which my grandmother sprinkles with red-hots.
Caught in the old walls, the thoughts of an only child crack the door open
and Bereft jumps up on the kitchen counter kicking restlessly until,
scolded, she slips down, walks stiffly away like any girl across the bright wooden floor.