In my mother’s house

In my mother’s house everything is calm.

Books are lined up, couch cushions fluffed, and dining room chairs pushed in.

Hopes and projects show their faces in piles, cabinets and articles bursting with possibility.

Vienna Fingers and Saltines predictably inhabit the 70’s-type bread drawer with sliding metal cover.

In my mother’s house, the prevailing color is gold, art is bright, and WQXR is always on.

Danish white china and Kagan furniture speak to a young couple choosing timeless warmth over wedding crowds.

Grandma Ida’s brass candlesticks speak to her teenage journey from Poland, and Kiddush cups intermingle with books.

Stilts stand in the garage, and Grandma’s hats, Mom’s gowns and Dad’s dress whites bring history to costume potential.

In my mother’s house recipes stand in laminated folders labeled in Kindergarten-teacher handwriting. 

Trace amounts of Concord grape splatter linger somewhere after all those years of jelly-making.

The KitchenAid bears loving fingerprints of Grandma and grandchildren bakers.

Everyone knows the brownie pan, and where to look for the frozen stash of Betty’s famous sweets.

In my mother’s house markers and paint brushes stand in Solo cups in the kitchen cabinet ready for grandchildren’s creativity.

The best toys have been saved, ready to be discovered, treasures in the basement.

A bag of coins, top-dresser-drawer curiosities, and Dad’s Navy insignia beckon imagination. 

My high school typewriter sits in my Dad’s study, waiting for small hands to create secret notes and library cards.

In my mother’s house magic happens when kids do New Year’s Eve “Chopped” with china dressing the table.

Seder plates and haggadahs live in familiar homes so grandchildren know where to look when planning seder. 

Coffee-table dreidels are meant to be spun, and the elegant white rug recalls tiny grandchildren’s naked dance parties.

The musty basement’s a site of acoustic joy, “Tradition” belted by the clothesline.

In my mother’s house, the kitchen table echoes with Dad’s late-night conversations, and Mom’s early morning breakfasts with grandchildren.

Voices are even, not raised, and chewing requires closed mouths.

The refrigerator exhibits glossy faces — grandchildren caught in action or posed endlessly by my father.

Children are met where they are, and the smallest of ideas are presented as delightful adventure.

In my mother’s house late this night, Mom sleeps, and I sit at that kitchen table. I look over my mask, listen to echoes in the calm, and cry.

-November 2020