A Story Poem


The Family left to right. First row: cousin John, cousin Tom, Zed. Middle row: cousin Jane, me, mom. Back Row: Dziadzio, Babcia, Aunt Polly, Dad with Reid. Circa 1954.

It’s National Poetry Month and here is one of my story poems to celebrate words and the images they create.  Just to fill you in, Babcia is the Polish word for Grandmother and Zed and Reid are my brothers.

Five Finger Exercise


Roast pork Sunday dinner.                                                                                                                 Babcia hems skirts, replaces                                                                                                             buttons.  Speaking in broken English                                                                                          implores us to eat one more bite.                                                                                                     Sings skinny no good, plumpy is healthy.                                                                                       Warns of the wolf in the pump house                                                                                             who feeds on underfed children.


Thanksgiving in New Jersey.                                                                                                             Smoke stacks belching blueblack vapor.                                                                                         Hateful boy cousins tease, torment,                                                                                                 look up my skirt.                                                                                                                                 My uncle shows me middle C.


A black baby grand.                                                                                                                             Glossy red John Thompson books.                                                                                                   A metronome beating the air.                                                                                                           Mrs. Miller sits too close,                                                                                                                   pushes and prods.                                                                                                                                 I try to keep up, forgetting                                                                                                               lines in a recital.


My brother Zed squeezes                                                                                                                   his accordion, seeking approval.                                                                                                       Eyes bandaged, we feed him                                                                                                               canned yellow peaches,                                                                                                                     calling them slimy goldfish, raw eggs                                                                                             to be swallowed whole.


Winter blows an icy dirge.                                                                                                                 My father fumbling farewells                                                                                                           but honestly trying,                                                                                                                             asks Reid to build him                                                                                                                       a plain pine box.


I will be away for a week.  This time to visit my daughter and grandkids,  spend time with a dear friend and to go on retreat for a couple of days.  My sweet man will stay home to hold down the fort, keep the dogs company and water the garden.

We had our first lettuce of the season a few days ago, the carrots are just beginning to show tiny green sprouts in their dark, rich soil and broccoli and spinach will be ready for the table in about a month.

When I return, I’ll plant more words right here.  Have a wonderful week!

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2 Responses to A Story Poem

  1. Clara says:

    Lovely poem, Joan. And the photo is wonderful. There’s something special about photos in black & white, don’t you think. Not only do they take us back in time, but they seem to have a sense of innocence that doesn’t come through in color photographs.

    I so enjoyed meeting you and Sharon last week. I look forward to hearing your impressions of your time away.

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