Unsaid


 

 

You would be one hundred tomorrow,

and I would have made you a cake—

your mom’s white spice cake with what we kids used to call

cement frosting – sugar boiled to death, and slathered on

like plaster, with an old kitchen knife of Grandma’s.

 

I’d make you hot Lipton tea, even though it will be a scorcher of a day–

you with your sweater on, and me breaking a sweat.

We’d talk and laugh, but when I would ask about you growing up,

and what it was like in your younger days, you’d get quiet, and

change the subject to how my garden was doing.

 

I still think about you living with your aunt that year,

while Grandma went to Fort Worth.

I figured it out that year your

cousin’s kids came to live with us for the summer,

you adding chairs and another leaf to the table—

no explanation given.

 

Years later, when I brought our foster son to meet you,

you’d baked a pie and made your favorite dish,

put out your great grandma’s English china bowl

and just smiled and gave him a hug.

 

You’ve been gone a long time now, but I still

grow your favorite rose

and think of you when I plant my peas, using Grandpa’s hoe,

and set the table when guests are coming,

using your silverware, and folding the napkins just like you.

 

I’ll even make some Lipton tea on a stormy day, and read a book—

remembering you doing that, while a roast cooked in the oven,

filling the house with love, you saying “Hi” when I got back from school.

 

A few years ago, something great happened and I picked up the phone—

halfway through the number, I realized you wouldn’t answer the call,

and laugh when I told you the news—

I miss that, sometimes more than I think I can stand.

 

The other day, I drove by Great Grandma’s house,

where you were “born and raised” and learned to ride your uncle’s horse,

the old and “new” barns gone now, the road to the cemetery just grass,

a hundred years changed most everything, I think,

Except what really mattered, what was too often left

Unsaid.

 

 

—Neal Lemery

September 2017

 

To Forget


The list of things to forget
brought me to remember what I’d lost
and not wanted to find ever again–
to pains and ashes and broken hearts
of long ago and yesterday,
all coming back.

To write it down becomes remembrance–
I try mourning again, like the obituary
falling out of the well fingered Bible,
old and tattered, its fluttering downward
bringing fresh tears.

In trying to forget, I remember again
the joys and smiles and songs well sung.
Those notes dull the pain of what
I came here to forget, but
need to remember
again.

—Neal Lemery, 9/2/2013