Tag Archives: family

The Open Door

This late day
of Fall sun
ran away from
a bank of gray clouds.

I stand in
the back yard
in the bitter-smelling mums
and see the door
forgotten, open.

And then her hand
shutting it quickly
against the swift cold rain.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Something Cold Falls

In these endless days,
I think of the small yellow room
off the kitchen
where we had our coffee every morning.

I remember sitting with you
looking out the window
over the cobbled streets
of our old city,
now blasted and forsaken.

And something cold falls
through my heart.

I write to you every day
on scraps of paper
folded and refolded
worn and gray at the edges
but each time
I pass a mailbox
I remember that you are no place
that I can send it to.

And something cold falls
through my heart.

When I dream of the worst,
that they have you,
Of what they do,
I wake up
and hold my hands against my cheeks
as you did.

You are alive,
I tell myself,

And I am fleeing.

My old striped suitcase
of orange and green
that fell on your head
on the train ride
through the mountains
so many years ago
drags behind me
leaving bruises on my ankles.

Where I am is nowhere.
I am only where I am from.
And where I am from
is no longer there.

The changing sky
follows me
as I travel,
the gray clouds
chase me across the distances.

Tonight I write to you
in the margins of
a magazine
someone left
in the train station.
Near the words I cannot read,
I write:

Dear lover,
I am safe here
in a small room
with bare walls
and sheets that smell of bleach.

Someday, dear one,

I stop here and
look out the cold window…

We will walk back
along the night streets
where we parted
past the secrets
of the rustling palms
back to the small yellow room
and the coffee
will be thick
and bright.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Porch Lights

Now with the river
always on my right
I’ve left my companions
for a few days
to travel on alone
this last leg
to take me home.

It is April
night is falling
and the mist is gathering
between the river bluffs.

I know I will arrive
in the dark
that I will be exhausted
that the screen door
will still stick
as it always has
that they will be sleeping
with the windows open
the eyelet curtains
softly catching against the sill
or playing cards late
at the VFW.

But that no matter
where they are
someone will have
left the porch lights on
(the lights from my childhood nights
being called in for bed)
and a slice of pie
on the counter.

That every year
I am welcomed.
That even in the bad years
(I mean the years that I was bad.)
there were porch lights
and pie.

– Kay Winter

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I remember bits of the movie we watched
when we were all home together
that last college summer:
the boy, the bicycle, the wide-headed creature
with long fingers.

Back at school,
each time I’d catch sight
of my recklessness in a mirror,
I’d mouth “phone home” to the reflection.

We did call home,
for years after that,
from dorms, bus stations,
scattered apartments,
gas stations off interstates:
I am coming Tuesday,
we are almost there,
I have two whole weeks,
can you come get me at six?

But gradually,
our visits became less frequent,
shorter, hurried.

I remember one later year,
the melancholy days after Christmas,
standing in the rain,
in front of the colored lights
in a hometown window,
no one left in town but me,
thinking of a distant desk by a window,
realizing that I had made my own home,
and there would be my returning.

Copyright Kay Winter

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“I refuse to be burdened,” he says.
“With things. Things are empty.
Empty as people.
People with their sneaking looks at the bus stop.
And their worried brows at the door,
standing there,
shifting from foot to foot,
in their grimy tennis shoes
asking me if I want to grab a bite maybe
at the place
just on the corner.

Burdened with their touch,
their arms across my shoulders,
their hands reaching across the breakfast table,
their letters,
and their worthless concern.”

He hoists his pack onto his shoulders,
turns away from the lodge,
toward the mountain,
and begins to climb.

We watch, his father and I,
our hands in our pockets.

“I want to get high enough,” he calls,
looking back,
“Past the tree line.
Past the ridge of clouds that circle the snow.
Up high enough
That I will not burdened with anything.
Not even breathing.”

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OctPoWriMo Poem 17 – Fresh Air

Needing fresh air
I retrieve my parka and boots
And sneak out the pantry door
Of my aunt’s crowded house
And into the frigid January night
Counting against frostbite
I dig my mittens out of my pockets
And pull my hat down over my ears

My boots squeak against the packed snow
Someone is burning cedar
A hockey stick cracks against the ice
And I remember you, one
Christmas, skating by yourself
The sun slanting gold
Across the impromptu rink at the lake edge

Do you ever come home, too,
And long to escape again
The moment you arrive?

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OctPoWriMo Poem 4 – Hoochie

When I was a girl
my dad gave me a crackly 78 recording of
House of the Rising Sun.

He said owning it made me cooler
than 99 percent of the kids in America

He explained, in blues man terms,
what the song was about
which I relayed to my mother
as I sashayed my Cheerios to the breakfast table:

“Some poor soul,” I said
“Who lost everything
to a hoochie mama in a cat house
in New Orleeeeeens.”

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