The elms and the maple trees seem to be  touching me

with breaths softer than rains . . . . My thoughts

stray north to Sandusky where the beach is still warm

although the leaves are beginning to turn in the woods

near Port Clinton, and outside Frenchtown my sister’s baby

suns herself in the clothes basket while my sister

hangs out tent dresses and orange towels.  My mother,

who teaches third grade geography, pauses to look

at gold on the willows behind the school, and my aunts

are sweeping the front walks with strokes like goldenrod.

I remember that it was on a day as quiet as this

that General Morgan crossed the river over the hills

south of us and how, on such a noon Lucy Hayes,

Rud’s old camp hat shielding her eyes, sat outside

the kitchen in Fremont and tossed bread to the pigeons

fluttering in halos.

I remember the peach tree which grew because my grandmother

buried a peach seed with the garbage, how the little tree

burgeoned with peaches which my grandmother gave away

to the truck drivers, the ten-cent store clerks,

and the upstairs neighbors! (I will write to my mother:

“memories become prayers at lunch time.”)

c Elizabeth Ann James Shiblaq

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