Family Lore

Were we to scramble up the crumbling steps
Of the red-shingled cottage by the sea
Smelling of salt and rain, and hollowed by moor cold
The peat moss with soft bulbous heads
Spread sleeping on the stone, a cushion for a mouse
And our bare toes, wrinkled by the long trek —
We would hear the rustling of the wind
Against the battered shutters left ajar
Abandoned like thieves in the dark
The luminescence of memories casting a wan glow
On nights spent gnawing on leather
And pulling spuds dark as stone from the ground
Handed down by a grandfather that never spoke
But did in the grimness of his lips
A history we dared to romanticize


Envy Not Thy Neighbor

The people peep into keyholes
Into parlors laden with roses
The finest china
And souvenirs from far off places
In this dim glimpse
It is too easy to imagine happiness
Dwelling like a dream
And ashamed they hurry away
Shawls or coats pulled tight
Never daring to knock on the front door
Never hearing the arguments on the second floor
Never knowing the unwashed garments piling in the laundry room
The children slamming doors and pouting
The worm-eaten peonies
That the mistress of the house sobs over
In the barren garden behind the white picket house