after William Stafford
Mine was a Greek home—transplanted in New England.
We took root there but rejected its cold code.
From the back porch, we could see
the gold dome of the Orthodox church.
The mingled scent of mothballs, parsley, gardenias--
The whirr of the sewing machine birthing flurries of aprons--
The braided kouloudia and sugar-dusted kourabiedes in red and gold tins--
The bottle of home-made brandy under the kitchen sink--
The stark white enamel stove was GE, electric;
lemon-oregano chicken sizzled in the oven.
Outside, peaches and quinces and currants--
and the sun reflected in a mercury ball.
My grandfather fingered his amber worry beads:
“Marry a Greek or marry a Jew, but
whatever you do, don’t marry a Yankee.”
(We took root there but rejected their cold code.)
On hot summer days, my cousins and I roamed the streets
of the old factory town where nothing ever happened
dragged back home to jump on the beds
and eat bowls of fresh peaches with whipped cream.
This poem was inspired by the poem, Our Home, by William Stafford. To read it, click here. The artwork was selected by the editor for illustration, but was not a prompt for the poem.
Leah Johnson is a poet, writer, teacher, and musician. She was a full-time professor in the Writing Studies Program at American University in Washington, DC. for twenty-years and is a member of the Surrey Street Poets. Her work has been published in Green Mountains Review Online, The Healing Muse, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. In previous incarnations, she has been a journalist, co-founder and artistic director of Georgetown’s Dumbarton Concert Series; US coordinator for Yehudi Menhuin’s outreach program Live Music Now!, and a piano teacher.
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