The apple tree, a yawn of lawn
where my father planted a vegetable garden,
porch where we played,
a banister where my sister
lost a tooth, the accordion door
to my bedroom. Traffic
lights told stories on my walls.
A-Frame rental, Valley of Lakes, PA:
Red shag carpet, a loft, and stairs
with a space underneath I turned
into a post office. The pond my sister and I named
Anniversary Pond, one I wrote about twenty years later,
falling in love with the idea
of what is underneath the surfaces
of the world. So many.
Valley of Lakes, PA:
A dogwood tree, a deck with a space
left for a tree to grow through it, rooms
where my sister and I slammed doors
or created radio shows, a forest of cicadas
to wake to, dirt roads, a lake and a canoe.
The woods where I grew up, my parents
so young in t-shirts and jeans,
my grandmothers visited on Sundays,
holidays, and birthdays. Potato salad.
first apartment during college,
my roommate’s knick-knacks and kimchee.
The Peeping Tom who left
a mountain of cigarette butts
on the lawn by the kitchen window.
Not enough outlets to have
the fishtank and the coffeepot
plugged in at the same time,
a landlord who clipped his toenails
while my grandmothers visited
his real estate office. Green
shag carpeting. A kitchen table
from the 1960s, all vinyl and chrome.
My grocery receipts included
items that were only a dollar or less.
Home with Mom and Dad
for summer, then for a year or so
of a self-imposed college sabbatical.
Scrabble on the side porch, dinners with dad
while mom worked the three to eleven shift
at the hospital. House full of light.
Three flights up to a layered torte
of more green shag carpeting. My father
paid some co-workers to help him
haul my apartment sized piano
up all those stairs. I didn’t play
it enough for that.
A slow chain of buildings with
blue doors, and a train that went by
at 1 a.m. every morning.
The piano only went up one flight
this time. When the building manager
had the units sprayed for roaches,
they only worked in the hallways,
so roaches became a staple.
Traps everywhere, scuttling
when the lights were flipped on.
Eight months pregnant, I painted
the ceiling of the bedroom
in our brick rowhome, and slept
on a mattress on the floor.
Later, I brought my new daughter
home and there was a bed.
Three floors to play with, and the top
had two rooms for painting and writing.
Our neighbor’s mouth was hidden by facial hair,
and he grew tomatoes where his dogs shat.
Other neighbors threw eggs
at each other in the street.
Here again, hello. Another whole
house to ourselves, two floors.
Cherry tree in the back,
a kitchen big enough to dance in.
Long walks in the strip mined land
my daughter called “The Jungle.”
The first house I bought, then bought again
with the help of my parents during a divorce.
Not one right angle in it, thanks to the area's
coal mining heritage. The love of my life helped
paint the rooms alive again. My daughter
wore a cat tail, a ladybug costume,
a prom dress, a graduation cap,
and then a baker’s toque.
We packed everything
but the years of growth
marked on the doorjamb.