Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Numbers" (poem)

Poetic Bloomings is hosting a series of “memoir” prompts.  The latest one encourages us to write about our childhood home, not the people (“Not yet,” Marie and Walt say), but the place.


“What are the neighbors of five?”
A teacher asked a six-year old me.
“There’s one girl across the hall…”
She laughed – it was about numbers,
She was expecting “four” and “six”,
But to me five meant family – us,
Two parents, one grandma, one sister,
One little me.

There were other numbers, too:
Fifty square meters (not quite),
Three rooms, one tiny kitchen,
Fifth floor, four windows
All facing one busy city street
Lined up with hundreds of trees,
Countless buses, “buses with horns,”*
And all sorts of cars swishing by
(I used to watch them for hours
Counting red cars.
Always red.)

Numbers changed as years went by,
But always growing, never decreasing,
“Four generations under one roof,
Six people…and one dog!”
My mother would proudly say
At one point.

The count is different as of today.
Not because of my babushka’s passing,
Or me living across the ocean for years,
But because of my two kids’ decision
To take their first steps in the narrow hallway
Of their mother’s childhood home.

Numbers do change – they grow,
For whoever has been touched by that place
Never leaves.

*"buses with horns" - trolleybuses 

Live for the Love of it,
The Happy Amateur