The Blue Rose Apron

19 Apr

 

When she smiles,

suddenly, I am a child

circling the Sunday dinner table

taking orders for dessert.

“With or without ice cream, sir?” I ask Grandpa,

penciling lines I imagine

a waitress might write.

Soon, she serves crystal cut bowls full of cobbler

like blackberries kissed by diamonds,

steaming and syrupy sweet,

cool white rivers of melting cream

mixing purple then blue

like the roses on her apron

as she bend around to hand me a spoon.

 

I notice her hands,

worn smooth as a lucky coin

while she fries chicken in a big black skillet.

Sizzling clouds of pepper and fat

mix with the back door breeze

billowing her blue rose apron.

I’m fifteen.

I cross the kitchen,

not too cool to sit on a corner stool,

the last one Grandpa made,

but my knees rise high

like a cricket held too close for comfort.

And suddenly,

I am tall.

Suddenly, she is ever so

small.

 

She plays the upright Richmond piano,

my teething marks still on the bench,

And in each line

of heartbreak and Patsy Cline

I feel so crazy.

I am so lonely.

Into the pocket of her blue rose apron,

I reach for tissues layered with Windsong,

her low alto inside the ringing tones

against the storm of tears

from this heart, so far from home.

She knows this type of leaving,

this type of loving,

too sweet, too beautiful

to hold for long.

 

Time suspends me at seven

upon entering the lilac coolness of her room.

I lie across her bed,

my feet on muslin pillows spotted yellow and blue,

my face to the open window’s summer breeze,

lined with tears and truth.

On its hook in the closet,

a blue rose apron rests among clothes

too dear now for anyone else’s wearing.

Listen.

The pause between bees wings and a bluebird’s echoing call

is the silence where you hear her,

her spirit, her smile,

now light,

now air.

 

 

Ollie Ruth Mullins Beard

12-09-1920  — 4-13-2017

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