Endings are beginnings, the snake that grabs its tail. We've begun a New Year, unsure exactly what ended. The call for poems on on the theme of 'beginnings" took me back to older spaces that felt like beginnings and maybe endings. My poetry collections include Ocean's Laughter from Aldrich Press and Urban Wild from Finishing Line Press. Website: triciaknoll.com
My Mother’s Memorial
She did not want a service.
The people in her senior home
expected something, so we invited them
to see photos of her as a beauty queen,
her kids and grandkids.
Bridge players came,
people from the restaurant,
three with walkers.
The pianist we hired played old love songs.
I handed out her collection
of ironed linen handkerchiefs scented
with Chanel No. 5. No speeches.
No one dipped into our cut-glass bowls
of jellybeans – her favorites.
No habañero, no coconut –
straight-ons of cherry, speckled,
licorice, lemon, and lime
rainbow of sweet tooth and discipline,
three a day. Some of her friends
nibbled at lemon cake. They understood cake.
Months later my brother, his wife, my daughter and I
took that recyclable box full of bone and ash –
I regret it wasn’t a heart-shaped candy box –
to the cliff over Devil’s Cauldron.
February rain slapped sideways, unforgiving.
We let go of the box. It slid down the cliff
to the Pacific.
Drenched and squeamish, we retreated to my beach cottage,
ate turkey sandwiches and dill pickles in our underwear
until our jeans dried. We told stories,
her red cut-glass bowl of Chuckles,
twenty years mourning my father,
how she stole glances at cards
in an opponent’s hand, how I learned
to cheat and hold my cards close.
In a Snowstorm
Blizzard, stuck on Interstate 80
through northern Pennsylvania,
the night before Thanksgiving, three grad students
on our way to Michigan for family dinners.
Stranded behind a long-haul truck
whose driver kept stepping down
from the cab, staring down the road.
No going anywhere. One radio station.
The family next to us ate chicken wings
and flapped napkins. We were young enough
to think every obstacle could be moved fast.
Wind sculpted sharp drifts.
Tom went to the trunk of the hand-me-down
blue Pontiac we called Blue Whale. He pulled out one
sleeping bag, made of cheap blue nylon with chicken,
not goose, feathers and shook it at the white out.
And shook it again, flag flamboyant,
as if to say although we had no chicken wings,
we had this, a discount bag that he shoved
into the car. Three of us crawled in the back seat
with one book of H. P. Lovecraft the other man owned –
stories of Cuthulu, strange turnings, and creaking gates.
The family sorted itself, the father with two boys
in the back and the mother with the baby
in the front seat, nursing and bundling.
We read in turns, too cold to sleep, huddled
under that barely-better-than-nothing bag
until dawn sneaked in. I heard the word
eldritch enough times that stormy night
to ache for a snowplow to show and to know
that the man crammed in to my right,
the man with the book, not the bag,
was the man I would marry.
©2016 Tricia Knoll
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