By Julia Martyn
Around 1954, I’d walk home from school
In the afternoons
I’d stop and sit by the little stream
And rub my fingers on the pebbles
I loved the raw circles I made on their tips
Circles as red as the skin
Under the plump bubble of a blister.
Around 1960, the year of Bach, especially on bad nights
I’d take my three brown dogs to bed
With a box of crackers, which we share
While I sing them their favorite song.
Around 1962, my grandmother died.
Her flesh will not keep her warm any longer.
She cannot say why she hates it.
I cannot find my hat.
I laugh and cry uncontrollably say “love”, my mouth snarls “fool’.
I say “but love, love” My grandmother watches
Around 1973, my sister Mary wed
He saw exactly how she was beautiful….
Paradise gave them legs for spinning
Weep and pray and be joyful
Is there any other possible way?
Around 1978, my Uncle Michael died
From a distance the cars move to music
From a distance, the world sings back.
I address myself to the dead now.
Around 1980, I am stuck in the middle of a story,
Not knowing if he will arrive.
I saw his face; this makes no difference-
There is a man at Laguardia-
Holding a rose. When I think of it
I cannot stop loving him.
Around 1991, How I remember
Picking apples at Pickford’s Orchard
The children half crazed with excitement and adventure
And how the smell of apples, of apples in a bowl
Can stop the heart for an instant,
Between sink and stove. Mother that was you.
Around 1996, I awoke from my dream.
In the middle of winter when stars
Of ice have spread across the windows
And everything is perfectly still
Until you catch the sound of
Loss and sky beating its wings.
And then music…