Thursday, July 22, 2010

POETRY FRIDAY: Miss Myrtle's Table



Miss Myrtle's Table


Every Saturday
Mom and I clean
Miss Myrtle’s house.


I like cleaning the dining room best,
it’s toasty warm in winter,
cool as a peppermint stick in summer.
The smell of cinnamon buns baking floats
from the kitchen.

And three tall windows let sunshine tiptoe
across the room all morning long.


I glide the dust mop over the hardwood floor
sweeping it around and around the big
chocolate brown table that stands
in the center of the room surrounded
by twelve matching chairs.


The table is covered with lace
like a hundred tiny snowflakes
carefully stitched together.

Cradled on top—
a dozen crystal candy dishes
each filled with sweet treasures:
lemon drops, caramel creams
butterscotch, bonbons, and lollipops.


I circle the table polishing it
watching wrappers sparkle like jewels.
I look over the candies carefully
imagining the liquid of lemon,
the crunch of peanut brittle,
the creaminess of chocolate kisses.


But I don’t touch them
because I know it’s not polite—

At the end of the day
Miss Myrtle pays Mom
and offers me the pick of the table.

It’s so hard to choose.

When I finally do,
I unwrap the candy
and place it on my tongue
holding it there
allowing it to melt
slowly
hoping
all the sweetness
will last.

When I was a little girl, we lived next door to my great-aunt.  She had big family dinners every Sunday, and there was always the most delicious smells coming from her oven.  Her house was filled with beautiful furniture, an organ, a piano (things I'd never seen in any one's house.) The thing that amazed me the most was a huge table with beautiful candy dishes filled with every type of candy your could imagine.  It looked so magical in the sunlight. 

More than forty years have passed since I last saw that table, and yet I still remember the excitement of choosing any candy I wanted.  Sometimes, she would give me a bag of candy to take home. I felt rich as I shared my bounty with my brother and sisters.  Even the bellyache was worth it!

To enjoy more poetry fun, head on over to Language, Literacy, Love for today's Poetry Friday Roundup!

12 comments:

  1. What a lovely story and imagery, Linda - "...let sunshine tiptoe...", "...like a hundred tiny snowflakes carefully stitched together"... I am enjoying thinking about the elderly ladies I've known who share candies in cut bowls such as these!
    A.

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  2. Oh, this is beautiful, Linda. My favorite part:

    The table is covered with lace
    like a hundred tiny snowflakes
    carefully stitched together.

    Thanks for sharing the story, too. I love the line where you say you felt rich as you shared the candy. That's lovely!

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  3. You brought your memory to life! I was there with you, dusting and resisting those candy bowls. (When you weren't looking, I snuck a lemon drop!!)

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  4. Linda,

    I love this poem. Those "special" childhood memories stay with us forever, don't they. Your images are so vivid. I can imagine myself in that dining room with you.

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  5. Great poem and great story, Mom! Keep up the good writing.

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  6. I love the line:
    "And three tall windows let sunshine tiptoe
    across the room all morning long."

    You are very talented at expressing yourself. Way to go!

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  7. Such a lovely poem and memory, Linda. Of course, I am especially partial to it because of its sweetly delicious images! Mmmmmm, those crystal candy dishes do remind me of my grandmother, too -- innocent days, a slower pace. Right now, I need a cinnamon bun. :)

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  8. Linda, I love the imagery here, particularly "like a hundred tiny snowflakes stitched together" and "cool as a peppermint stick in summer." Your memory reminds me of the single candy dish on my grandmother's table that contained Hopjes, square Dutch coffee candies that I looked forward to eating when I was there. Thanks for sharing this poem. You are growing as a poet!

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  9. A very busy day today, but I wanted to send a big thank you to everyone who commented here. I worked quite a bit on this poem, but I'm still not sure it's finished. The first paragraph feels like it still needs work. I truly appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Have a great weekend!

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  10. Hi, Linda. It's such a sensory poem -- what a joy. I was always amazed at older relatives who kept these candy dishes out all the time. At my house, my dad, brothers and I would have gobbled it all up!

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  11. Great poem! I agree that this is a very sensory poem with a lot of great imagery. Just as a thought, do you think you should get to the candy sooner? I get the feeling that the candy is an object of desire in this so maybe restructuring so that as you move through the room you are focused on the candy (which is reflected in all the candy like descriptions).

    Just a thought. Great poem! I only make suggestions because you said you are not sure its finished.

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  12. Great visuals and a lovely memory!

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