Aspiring writers are often admonished to write what they know. More than a dozen years ago I was inspired to write a collection of poems based on my own childhood experiences.
I spent many of my happiest days as a child at the home of my maternal grandparents. Babci, my grandmother, and Dzidzi, my grandfather, owned a small duplex in Peabody, Massachusetts. They lived close to the earth. They had a large vegetable garden behind the house. They had fruit trees on their property: apple, pear, cherry, and plum. There were all kinds of flowers growing in their yard, including lilacs, peonies, hydrangeas, and a giant sunflower. My grandfather tended the garden; my grandmother preserved the fruits and vegetables that weren't eaten fresh in mason jars.
Two of my first cousins lived on the other side of the duplex. The older of the two was my age; her sister was just a year younger. We cousins spent a lot of time together in my grandparents’ yard--especially during the summer. We’d help weed the garden, water the flowers, eat green apples and scallions, pick rhubarb. I’d ride my bike to my grandparents’ house and spend vacation days playing with my two cousins--who were also my best friends.
When Dzidzi, my mother’s father, passed away in 1984, it affected me deeply. Babci, my grandmother, died five years later. I wanted to save my childhood memories of times spent at their home on paper. In 1995, I began work on a collection of poems about me, my cousins, my grandparents, and the rest of my family. The poems take our family through a year at the home of my grandparents.
Here is one of the spring poems from my unpublished collection, A Home for the Seasons, which was written in memory of grandparents. The poem is about me and my cousins and my Babci.
By Elaine Magliaro
The crowns of the blossoming fruit trees
are pink and white clouds.
We sit under the apple tree,
petals falling around us like spring snow.
Nearby Babci relaxes in the wide Adirondack chair
crocheting an earth-brown afghan
for our summertime picnics.
Her nimble fingers dance
as she hooks and loops
the dark yarn into intricate designs.
From a single strand
she creates a lacy island for us
where we will float
on a sea of soft green grass
near Dzidzi’s garden,
eating ham sandwiches,
crunching homemade pickles,
savoring our summer afternoons.
I posted another poem from this collection last September. You can read the poem, Autumn Fire, here.