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October 19, 2011

Silence Filled with Remembrance

Silence Across the Sideyards 
Mary Langer Thompson      
for Diane

The eve of your daughter's wedding
I am drawn toward home.
I park in front
of where we used to live.
Two houses,
side by side,
repeopled, remodeled,

Fresh from Chicago
we moved in.
California, 1956.
Dad cleaned and scrubbed,
unable to find work.
Mom took a job at Citizen's Bank.

Tired of Our Miss Brooks
and Mr. Ed's peanut buttered palate,
I wandered outside
dissolving a grape fizzy on my tongue.
There you were,
ten years old with blonde braids.
Of course your eyes were blue,
and we hula-hooped
from strangers to sidekicks.

You taught me to polka
down your hallway,
past your room
directly across from mine.
Soon I started to whistle
across the sideyards
whenever I had news.
You would appear,
see me
curlered and Clearasiled.

After school we'd dance
to American Bandstand.
Overnight, we'd ride Route 66
to see Steve Allen.
You learned to drive first.
Of course your car was blue.
A whistle
and soon a light
to share moments from dates,
while your dog, Lucky,
paced beneath our windows.

Between learning and teaching
we married.
I stood in your wedding--
(of course my dress was blue)
and you in mine.
We birthed our babies
a month apart.
Yours will marry tomorrow.

The disease
bombarded your blood
and took you quickly.
Within three days.
We buried you in blue.

A woman now collects
autumn leaves,
and rose petals,
like tears,
lie on the lawn.
I strain to hear
a whisper of a whistle,
but all I hear is
silence across the sideyards.

Mary Langer Thompson has published poetry, short stories, and articles in a variety of anthologies and journals, most recently Quill and Parchment, Silk Road Review, and Off the Coast. She is a contributor to The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009), a poetry writing text. A former elementary school principal and secondary English teacher, Mary is an active member of the California Writers Club, High Desert Branch.

Poem, copyright Mary Langer Thompson, All rights reserved.
Previously published in So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets, edited by Paul Suntup.
Images copyright Ysabel de la Rosa, All rights reserved.

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