Saturday, April 7, 2018

Day 7

Today's prompt is to write a poem that makes use of the senses.  Choose one to focus on, or combine all of them for a sensory experience.

The following poem is really a compilation of childhood memories of summers spent at the lake.  Sometimes, summer at Grand Beach included my parents and older brother.  Other times I recall, we visited family friends who had a cottage at Winnipeg Beach, and two boys a couple of years older than I. Still other memories involve rental cottages north of Grand Beach in the resort area of Belaire.

When my own children were young, we were fortunate enough to stay one summer in the cottage of my mom's friend, Joyce, at Winnipeg Beach.  Watching the summer unfold through the eyes of my children remains one of my favourite memories.

The Cottage at Winnipeg Beach

Old and dusty, the cottage on Lake Winnipeg, a humble host
to generations of summer vacationers before us all seeking refuge
from the daily routines and pressing boredoms of summer’s child.

We left the concrete indifference of the city and arrived to find 
spiders living in corners, spinning silky landscapes across
age-yellowed window panes in homage to a round moon.

We ate off of chipped china plates, used miss-matched
silverware rubbed clean on a t-shirt, drank grape Kool-Aid
straight from the pitcher when no one was looking.

Summer’s hot and humid afternoons drew our limbs, tanned
and limber in the midday sun, to run through sprinklers across
countless fresh-cut lawns until hot dogs on the grill called us back.

At night, we worked endlessly by the light of our lanterns to complete
an image, our summer—cloudless sky meets ocean ripples—in
a thousand shades of blue it seemed, with one piece missing.

Mother appeared smelling of Bain de Soleil for her St. Tropez tan,
straw hat in hand.  Racing ahead, barefoot down the gravel path,
we’d laugh ‘til our whoops and hollers met waves in a cold embrace.

Towels tied round our necks became capes flapping behind us
as we ran.  Superman-strength, Wonder Woman-wild, stretched out
endlessly before our eyes along the sandy shore, the stickiness
of orange popsicle dripping from our chins.  Summer would never end. 
But it did.

Sadly, it did.

A second poem found its way to the page today.  This one darker than the first, yet still based on memories from childhood—not mine—but my own children's this time.

Shock Waves

They say hearing is the first sense to develop
and I wonder if you remember your father’s voice?

Sometimes when you laugh, you sound like him
and it startles me for a second. Sometimes, I still need
to remind myself that he’s not here,
because this is my house
and he has never been here.

When you were young, loud noises frightened you.
Too many people at the mall, all of them speaking at once,
would cause public meltdowns. Fourth of July fireworks
were unbearable even with my hands gently covering
your ears.

And your father’s temper sent you rushing to your room
to hide in the closet until it was all over, until the final
shouts had stopped resonating down the hallway, until
the front door had been slammed and the truck’s engine
had roared down the driveway,
receding in the distance like
a spent summer storm.

And then, I’d come quietly into your room, whispering
your name with a swollen lip or freshly blackened eye
to find you.  

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