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.
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.