Days of 1951 and a seven-year-old girl
brought hollyhocks and roses she plucked
from her grandmother’s yard, pink or white.
With the curtains drawn against
the heat of July, it invited curiosity.
She listened with determined turns,
kept it going, the music box, playing
in the quiet parlor, grandmother in stockings
and grey dress in the yellow-papered kitchen
draping strands of slow-drying dough
on wooden chairs. The girl listened to the noodles
shaped by hands that scratched her back at night.
The girl never asked of the dead husband
or of the two-year-old’s last photo
in the handmade wagon before she too was gone.
She wanted to hear of the man in rags
who stole cherry pies from kitchen window sills.
She thought the story funny: the hand sneaking up,
grabbing hold of a pie, the man running away.
She didn’t know the definition of hunger
or the desperate search for sweetness enjambed
with human loss. But come ye back
when the summer’s in the meadow.
Oh, Danny Boy, I love you so.
Brass and reels and little pin messengers
of time, like Auld Lang Syne.
It was a curiosity.