MY GRANDMOTHERS' HOUSE, SPRING 1960
The basement steps were dark and smelled of boiled shrimp
from my grandmother's downstairs stove, where she cooked
seafood to avoid its loud aroma, but left the cellar door open
almost always, so her whole house smelled pink as Florida,
where she loved to go. Even her walls were painted pink,
a shade she called Ashes of Roses. She was beautiful and
had enormous thighs in which she gave herself injections
against migraine. She called from the upstairs kitchen to my
grandfather as he ate cereal in the dining room on her pink
and white china: Just one spoon of sugar on your Rice Chex!
but he laughed and said, Tell her I took two! Tell her I'm
putting on three! and when I did, she believed me, red-faced,
hands fisted at her hips, her hair tightly curled and black
as a grand piano. She was angry and then she wasn't. From
her sun room, you could see The Mothball Fleet on its way
North, up the Hudson, but only if you were my father. I
never looked at the right time or maybe wasn't tall enough.
The Ghost Fleet, I heard someone say, which chilled me.
My sister had measles or chickenpox. My grandmother clicked
open the wooden doors of her TV, and I lay on the itchy
pinkish-brown rug in front of it, ankles burning from poison
ivy in Untemyer Park that afternoon. She'd told my grandfather
and me to watch out for it three times, so I didn't dare scratch.
The weatherman stuck a bunny instead of a smiling sun on
the map of Westchester County, for Easter. I'd get to stay in
my mother's old room, beneath the Hollywood Bed's pink tufted
headboard. There was coral in the night table's glass lamp,
and the window open just a crack. I'd go right to sleep; cars
drove up the hill all night with a sound like wind: hush, hush.
Headlights moving on the wall. Always, there was someone awake.
Christine Potter lives in a very old house in the Hudson River Valley with two cantankerous tom cats and her organist/choir director husband, Ken. Her two collections of poetry, Zero Degrees at First Light (2006) and Sheltering In Place (2013) are available at Amazon and other online retailers. She is also den mother to a free-form rock and roll internet radio station, listenable-to here.