Since I was a child, I loved it,
though everyone said I shouldn’t,
not with the shadow of the 1950s
on our backs, a refrigerator
the color of cotton candy looming,
the ominous flamingo-colored toaster.
Too girly, somehow, for a time
when girls could do anything, but not really.
The way we were supposed to be
was body-less, never letting a blush betray us.
But the cancer ribbon mocks me now –
a magenta menace flashing
on a blur of sweatshirts passing
on the street, two women lightly cheating death,
brisk and sun visored, gliding benignly beneath
cherry blossom petals, leaving me wishing
I was body-less. Walking towards the sunset,
that’s the color of a baby’s mouth,
the color of a young girl’s blushing cheek,
the color of an old woman’s curler
the color of an overturned oyster shell,
the mother of the pearl.
Her life in color
My grandmother’s photos
are black and white
but I dream her in color:
the curlicued rolls of dust
swept from the nut-brown oak floor
of her family’s general store.
The aqua wool suit and veiled beige skull hat
she wore on her wedding day
to a black-haired brown-eyed Dane,
the pines stark against the sky
that clear April morning
at 6 a.m., before he left
for a forest of blood and water.
He gave her a silver bracelet
with dogwood flowers.
Letters home from my grandfather at war
on Christmas Eve from a white
washed hospital room:
Tis the day before Christmas in 1944 and a week before the end of another year. A year to be remembered always and a year to be forgotten forever.
He told her he went to mass
but not communion.
A silky green rayon dress
worn to meet him at the train station.
Later, a house with a sandstone facade,
shades of pink, tan, yellow,
stepping stones made of cut glass
leading up to the front door,
breakfast room with pine paneling,
silver rosary in a music box,
bouquets of yellow roses
on the entryway table, paintings of rust
colored covered bridges on ceramic tiles,
reminders of their Sunday drives.
The second half of the year will always be remembered because, even though thousands of miles apart, we were together in our love for each other and our love of God and His love for us.
They slept in twin beds
because of the nightmares.
Then a houseful of girls in saddle shoes, chapel veils,
always clattering Tupperware,
always thundering down the stairs,
always pressing violets and snowdrops
paper-thin inside hardbacks. The pendulum
is the heart of the grandfather
clock in the living room,
is the color of the sun. The sun
catchers cast rainbows
on the chestnut hutch, on the tear drops
of the blue paisley sofa.
God bless and keep you, my darling.
Sarah DeCorla-Souza is the author of the poetry collection Ordinary Time (Plan B Press, 2022). Her poetry has appeared in Bourgeon, Pensive, Innisfree, JMWW, and other journals. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband and four children, where she works as a graphic designer. She is also an Associate Editor for the literary magazine Dappled Things. Find her online at sarahdecorlasouza.weebly.com.
Image: George Chernilevsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons