46 Catherine St.

I hid behind the spirea bushes over there, by the steps,
chewed the bitter leaves, watched old Grandma Yonkers
in her lace up shoes and cotton hose mince slow,
slow, with her squeak-wheeled shopping cart,
an hour to the store and back. She never saw me,
or at least she didn’t say. The house is run down now.
Probably was then too, but kids don’t notice shabby
when it’s theirs. Screens are rusty, porch leans,
sidewalk buckled higher from the oak. Dad said
it should come out, but it outlived him, will outlive
me as well. Its acorn caps made high-pitched squeals
between my thumbs I crooked just so. We’d rake
its leather leaves in piles at the curb, light fires in the twilight,
watch embers spit into the blueblack dusk,
the scent of autumn in my hair.

– Sarah Russell
For Poets United prompt “memories
Photo source

31 thoughts on “46 Catherine St.

  1. I love “the scent of autumn in my hair”, and the raking of leaves……….I loved this memory poem, took me back to walking home from school in late afternoon, and the smell of leaf-fires in peoples’ yards. Sigh.

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  2. “the scent of autumn in my hair” beautiful I love your memory and what is great of other peoples memories it sets off your own memory. We used to whistle on acorn caps and we also made puppets with from acorns and used matches for arms and legs…… I now you got me going

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    1. I never made the puppets, but I can imagine how cute they were. I just made the whistles. It’s the one “boy” thing I know how to do. Piercing sound! Very cool. And yes, I love how others’ childhood memories make you think of your own. Thanks, Marja.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. When I took my very suburban-raised kids back to see the house where I grew up, the car got very silent. Inner-city, asphalt-shingles, shared driveway. I never noticed, never thought we weren’t on top of the heap! The thing that was most surprising was how small the backyard was. It was HUGE when I lived there!

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  3. A beautiful memory poem! The world you describe is so different from ours yet the image of childhood with grand parents is universal. And so is “the scent of autumn in my hairs “.

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    1. Thanks, Sumana. Rajani and I were commenting on the difference in our worlds the other day. I think there is something wonderful about being able to make friends and communicate almost instantaneously who live on the other side of the planet. I love this part of blogging.

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  4. Oh wow! Such vivid images, smooth flow and use of language that appeals to all senses. The poem makes me long for my childhood home. 🙂 Simply beautiful!
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog, now I found yours.

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  5. Oh, we are all time travellers who can return to the present as soon as the demands of “now” intervenes! Smiles. The unfamiliar sights, smells you describe create such fascinating emotions and sensory impressions!! Yes, memories of childhood must be pure because we were cognitively so simple back then.
    Such a beautiful poem, Sarah!

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    1. Thank you so much, Salem. I just went to your blog and read your interview with Poets United. You live in the most beautiful country in the world, I think. I put a comment on your interview about visiting Kenya. It was a lifelong dream for me to go there, and I want to go back. I know I would live there if my family weren’t here in the U.S.

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