When I was a little girl I knew my father
came across the country from Iowa
when he was a boy.
In my mind it was very long ago, a history.
In my father’s mind it was long ago, but something recalled.
In my grandmother’s mind the trip from Iowa with her new young
husband in the Model T her father gave her for her
high school graduation was only yesterday and she
remembers today how the prairie smelled
as she washes the dishes this afternoon.
We can drink our coffee, the light coming in the window,
the window my grandfather built fifty-five years ago
and it’s all different.
Time doesn’t run smoothly, it wraps itself around
and gets thick in our childhoods
and evens out when we’re grown.
Then when we’re old it thins out,
except when we remember—
when an old woman remembers
the way the prairie smelled.
And then time gets thick again and wraps itself around
a grandmother’s cup of coffee
in an afternoon in January
when the sun comes in sideways.
I was very homesick after I moved to Virginia. I wrote this poem one afternoon when I was wishing I could be back in North Hollywood in the kitchen with my grandmother. It was included in a handmade book I made called POPPYROSE.