Often, one sees a survivor from the past and wonders if anyone now remembers anything
about who once lived there, ot touched that. This is a house I saw outside St. Ignace, Michigan,
while we were on our way back to California from one of our long sojourns
in the Michigan woods near the Tip of the Mitt. The steeper pitch of the roof
gives us some idea of the winters here.
And the beautiful weathered grays of the wood
cry out to be rendered in watercolor.
The New Stove
The old one, ungainly, out of place
sits by the back door, sides
streaked with old meals, buttons
carrying old fingerprints
away --- tomorrow to Union Gospel.
It was my mother's stove, our
companion for fourteen years,
collaborator on how many meals!
Burners black and still, oven
going cold in the weather, dead clock
deader still. Once it was her
new stove, hers for a year
before her death at forty-five ---
clearly not good enough to keep
her alive, but good enough to
carry me this far, to forty-six
in this kitchen where I sit
dreaming back and forth, consulting
that dead clock and those
dark burners with no news of food ---
only memories going back to a day
in winter, when the stove, unnoticed,
became ours. I remember the last
drive to the hospital, my father
driving, my arm over the seat
to hold her hand, holding as if pulling
her along, holding as if keeping her
from falling some great distance ---
towing that dry hand all the way.
I remember how my arm went
numb, how I wanted it to sleep
and hurt, to somehow pay and buy
her back with stupid pain. There was
her dry hand and her eyes
and that drive going on and on
yet too short. And there was that truck
of junk leading us --- old refrigerators,
old stoves, battered and rusty --- which
I tried to stare away but it
continued, bearing its trite symbols
of the obsolete, our culture's silly
signs of death, and all the while
her new stove waited at home,
shiny, guaranteed for
years and years to come . . .
Backtracking, Story Line Press, Santa Cruz, 1995, pages 43, 44.