A pair of poems, inspired by the "Scots' glorious kindness in 1918 - the year both my parents were born." - Melinda Rizzo
For years, I’d look for mother substitutes –
under rocks, in closets, on the Ferris wheel in July at the shore.
Eventually, like hand recoiling from a hot stove burner, I stopped.
At about 15 I realized I didn’t really know what
I was looking for anyway– and the fresh sting of raw burn
slowly began to glaze over, reduced to a dull haphazard ache-
Losing a parent – and I’ve
been zero for two for a long time now –
it’s like a reverse birth: you are never the same.
Spring’s late this year.
The lilac is still, small, and tight.
They clutch to themselves in cool mornings.
A clump of wild violets – I never planted these -
shimmer in dappled sunlight. They’re seated
up against the fence, fully fledged.
These little ones must receive
some adopted warmth from painted wood,
some sheltering protection from season’s ebb and flow.
I lost you at 11, learned comfort in familiar,
daily routine: brushing my teeth,
Grammy’s “silver dollar” pancake breakfasts.
100 years ago today, on May Day, the United Kingdom celebrates.
Roman Goddess Flora is feted and rejoices.
Girls wear fresh garlands and twirl around Maypole rites of spring.
They’ve been doing this 2,000 years, or longer!
Everyone gets a bank holiday on May Day,
a return on investment they can count.
Yearly, I promise myself I’ll make a May basket
to hang on my front door knob. Redolent with spring flowers
from my garden and lavender sateen ribbons.
I would do it this year, truly, I would; except
daffodils are sad and spent. Delighted violets, too small,
to peep out from the rim,
and the lilacs – your blessed favorites –aren’t ready.
Pear blossoms and pine, bursting hyacinth
and a painted maple basket- Among reluctant,
white lilac blossoms, I found my courage.
© Melinda Rizzo
They’re playing Moon River on the radio,
one of your favorites.
I made myself a soft-boiled egg,
and got I it right! White just set,
summer sunshine yolk all ooze runny-
And I did soft white bread toast to dip it,
It wasn’t Wonder but it was wonderful-
with the crust a little crisp shattered snap.
Why does a soft boiled egg
and Moon River –
remind me of you.
This year you’d have been 100,
your odometer stopped and
mine still rolling toward 57 in December.
A year longer than Mom got to be-
So on Nov. 7, 2018
I’ll head to Philadelphia,
where you’d first moved from the farm
and married her after the war.
I’ll find an outrageous steak house.
On your birth date I’ll order a Manhattan, straight up,
with two maraschino cherries on a pick,
and give it a swirl….
I remember now why the eggs matter-
In your 2-room walk up at 5th and Girard
Mom made you creamy, soft boiled eggs.
She told me so – with Wonder bread toast,
and she’ use the traffic light on the corner
as perfect, 3-minute timer.
PS- In late September I’ll sit in the evening shade, a pony bottle of Rolling Rock
in one hand and farmer’s field at my feet. I’ll listen to the corn gossip, as the sun
fades while Mandarin moon, as wide as your smile, climbs the horizon.
The Scottish island that buried America's dead
Melinda Rizzo lives, works, cooks, gardens and writes poems in a 200-year-old farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA.