- for Helen Miriam and Nicolette Ruzicka
Back then I would walk you down
the block, up one more, then turn a wandering left
100 feet until we came under that stand of spruce
you thought was a forest creaky and frightful,
ripe for the wolf’s paw or witch’s cowl.
Except that we were just across from
a white, dilapidated house where Nicolette
and I once went peddling Girl Scout cookies
and got invited in to an oil-cloth kitchen
by a woman who tottered above her cane.
One who couldn’t spare a dollar or her tabby
would go fishless for days. So we came back
weeks later with boxes of Thin Mints and
told her they were excellent kept in the freezer
and even better crumbled over vanilla ice cream.
She said, "But I don’t have anything to give you."
Then made us weak tea we couldn’t get away from
fast enough as she spent the whole time scuttling around
scraping together a tote-bag of marbles, one carefully
rolled sheet of dryer lint, three peach pits, photo
of her middle boy by the Sunday shore in San Diego
and the fuzzy torsos of yellow jackets cased in amber.
She forced the bag into my hand as we sailed
off hailing our "So longs" forever and anon.
On an afternoon like this under tall pine
I might completely undo one of my shoe laces
to lay across your tiny palm. You would
cast it out upon the waters of the puddle
that always formed at that low spot.
I remember those days tasting like aluminum
as I stood by with my mind overcome by sky
as any puddle can be while a daughter
sings softly so that fish will drift in.
Your song a sort of lure, as every song is,
that caught us nothing those days but now seems
to be catching everything, here, I could ever want.
Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, "Engines of Belief - Engagement in Modern Art". His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, the Atlanta Review, the Xavier Review, Big River Poetry Review and other literary journals. Ed lives in Baton Rogue, LA and is an occupational therapist. More at: edrpoet.com.