Above the Landing
half way up the stairs I smell
the dried-wood August aromas of
old houses owned by old aunts and uncles.
Only it is me now, caretaker of toys,
old albums and keepsakes for others
to grow into
I am the family lighthouse keeper
of the treasures thick in back rooms,
high shelves and forgotten drawers.
I polish my presentation to wean-out
the worn-out language clogged with
cliché and age and irrelevance;
as much as I struggle to recall
all the details I was once armed with
I was young enough to half listen.
There are certain things which must graduate.
Lore that has no life if not loved.
The way granddad gave Saturday haircuts
or how gram maw cooked the apples
harvested by visiting city grandsons.
I remember a summer canvas hammock
and a cousin who rocked me like
she was creating more summer with
And an older cousin brother-ing us
with pea shooters and stray dogs, turned
into pets and naming fights.
Aunts who grew picnics out of nowhere
and an uncle who worked the water plant
and knew when we could play in the spillway.
Others who took us on horse rides,
to the fair at night, places so magical
they ended in enchanted sleep on the way home.
Let me pass on these things, the rich smell
of river bottom, the heft of sailing a
balsa wood plane, the sheen
on a freshly painted wall,
the scent of hose water
scalded by hot cement.
The slams of a screen door
by endlessly restless kids.
Or the smell of upper floors:
hardwoods baking closer to the sun,
smelling like a new, old world,
about to open.
About the Author
Mark Kessinger was born in Huntington WV, attended college at Cleveland State University, lived in Oklahoma City and now resides in Houston TX. He is a two year recipient of a creative writing scholarship from CSU, a founding member and president of the Houston Council of Writers, and former editor of Voices from Big Thicket. His poetry has appeared in many publications and four anthologies.