a door opened to the past

bringing the scent of White Shoulders

and honeysuckle soap from lives lived a long time ago

memories sweet as perfume are all I keep

tucked into linen handkerchiefs edged in lace

I no longer open the door to sadness

or welcome grief when it comes to call

Instead, I send them off with stories of Grandmere’s buttermilk biscuits

Mamma’s stirrup cake covered in hot fudge

and laughter at the snap of dominos on the dining room table.

fig and over-ripe pears

close up photo of bunch of pears

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on

I have promised a long walk,
sitting on the shady porch,
dark against the morning sun,
no sound except the chorus of cicadas
humming at the open windows
their late summer rasps.

Reaching for the blue sky hat on the hook
in sun yellow bedroom
decorated in birds
and their songs of August,
I enter a long ago summer room
layered in chenille bedspreads
and feathered pillows.

The scent of fig and over ripe pears
mixes with must of old paperbacks
and Ivory soap. My grandmother’s face powder
and Pampa’s pipe tobacco mingle together
in such a strong sense memory
that I have to sit down.

That long ago room of Waco childhood
spent lazy and loved, surrounded by
a charm of cousins and beautiful aunts
with handsome, laughing uncles in tow.
It has become gilded and foxed by the years,
not quite fact and not quite fiction.

The small dog breaks into the room
ready for his promised walk
and hat in hand,
we slam the screen door,
trailing the scent of figs
and sun ripened pears behind us.

From a branch of the family tree


I am from breakfasts in the watermelon shed
Dr Pepper and pear preserves
made of the knobby fruit from the side yard tree
Hot humid summer nights with pallets on the floor
populated by long legged, freckle nosed cousins
From sturdy Texas stock and dog people, mostly English setters
and crazy long tailed pointers
I am from Baylor homecomings and tearful home goings
I am from Albertine and LeeRoy

I am from tall pines, dark swamps
and paper mills with their pungent smell
Fish fries in Crossett Park and tea parties with delicate china cups
I am from church on Sunday crowded with great aunts and uncles
and quarters to place in the collection plate
From armadillos, white tailed deer and tail-less blue jays
And from trips to the graves at Promise Land
I am from the kids table at Thanksgiving
I am from John Henry and Marie


I am from prairie dog towns and bluebonnet Springs
From family dinners and station wagon road trips
Moving boxes and new school rooms
From brothers and beagles and capture the flags
I am from swimming pools and man made lakes and creosote creek
Home movies and John Wayne and Swiss Family Robinson
I am from Tammy and Old Rugged Cross and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
From special occasions and occasions made special
I am from her songs and his laughter
I am from Rose and John L.

*** I publish this poem again today in memory of my parents,
John L. Gresham 8/1/30 – 4/10/94
Rose A. Gresham 6/1/31- 4/26/16
I miss them everyday but I am proud of their legacy of love for their family and friends.

the angel of transubstantiation and fruitcake recipes

Angels of Childhood

(The amygdala and hippocampus
receive the information
from the olfactory bulb
before routing it to the thalamus,
already conjuring memories
before awareness of the scent
is formed in the conscious mind.)

Four eggs perch in my grandmother’s bowl
among the fragrant tangerines,
waiting to take a crack into the citrus-y batter
where the luscious dates await.
The air is scented with oranges
and roasting pecans,
the fragrance of a kitchen
that no longer exists.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Ten

Memorial Day 2015

Memorial Day at the Lake

I like a day set aside for remembering. It’s not as if I don’t think of those that are no longer with us on other days, but this day is singular – a Day of Remembrance.

Our families veterans include great-grand fathers, my Gresham grandfather, great uncles, uncles, cousins, my Dad and my husband. All served their country in wars and peace.

I have a friend whose family and community still gather at the cemetery for the day, to sweep away the leaves and debris from the graves. They visit and clean the headstones, replacing the faded flowers with fresh wreaths, plastic or silk flowers. If there are graves no longer visited, these are not forgotten, they are tended and swept and cleaned too as a grace to those that went before. Then the families will picnic on the grounds, tell stories and laugh as they remember.

This tradition speaks to me. There are times I wish our family had not spread out across the country and we could come together on a singular day to tell stories and clean gravestones, leaving fresh bouquets for our loved ones.

I like the idea of this renewal of ties to the dead. They are always with us and this morning I am remembering those that have gone before me: my grandparents, the Allens and the Greshams, my great grandmother, LaLocke, my beloved Dad, my great nephew, Gabriel, a beloved friend’s daughter, my husband’s father,Pop, Aunt Toni, Aunt Nonie, Uncle Marty and Aunt Carol. So many friends and loved ones to remember, tell their stories and with laughter and love, keep their memories alive.

And, today especially, we remember my beloved niece’s brother in law, Lance Corporal Phillip Vinnedge, killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

I leave flowers for them all.
wild roses

There Are Places I Remember……

Are you thinking of that Lennon McCartney tune, In My Life? I love that song – and that is what is playing in my head right now!

Anyway, I was thinking of places we visit every few years – the changes the years bring and the way they stay the same too. When Bob and I were first dating, we lived in Colorado and would drive up into the mountains just to see what we would find. One of our favorite stops was Silver Plume, a tiny nest of homes on the south facing slope just off of Highway 70. We would stop in at the local restaurant, have drinks and play a few games of pool. It was one of those little towns that strikes your imagination. We would choose houses that we could live in and we talk endlessly about how we would fix them up. A fantasy of what life would be like in a tiny Colorado town.
We come back every four or five years to visit friends and renew our love of the Rockies. And a visit to Silver Plume is always included in our few days in the mountains. Some years, there have been more shops. Once an art gallery in the old church was open. We bought a photograph of the picket fence directly across from the gallery. It hangs in our den today. There is a bakery that caters to the locals, with a bin of fresh made bread on the front stoop. Written on a blackboard next to the door is the type of bread, the cost and the golden rule. The restaurant hasn’t been open for a number of years, but we always drive by, just in case.

This little town still stirs our imagination. We still choose houses we would live in and talk about the ways we would make it ours. I walk to the bakery in my mind, to buy fresh warm loaves. We warm ourselves against the winter’s snow and wonder about the friends we would come to know in this tiny community.

These pictures were taken in Silver Plume. We were fascinated by the fence and thought the chairs were a clever idea!