Clean

I remember the 13 x 9 x 2 aluminum version
Carving out perfect brownies for a crowd
Or the glass model 8 x 6 x 2, the smaller size
For the rare few who stayed up late

I remember baked-on grease forever embedded
Into the fabric of the pans, creating their own
Modern artwork in a chaotic kitchen
The result of motherhood gone awry

Baking meant sustenance, but more than that
It revealed ingenious fortitude, cleverness and pride
Combined with creativity that surpassed all else
I remember that creativity, that strength

And I remember the love that went into each egg
Fried into a perfectly shaped circle inside a slice of bread
A circle that we called breakfast, along with crisp bacon
And always a glass of whole milk or juice, our choice

I remember taking turns at the bar, slipping onto a warm stool
In front of a previously occupied plate still wet with yellow yolk
That she shoved aside to replace with a new, warm toad
One that would be consumed in time to catch a school bus

I remember the burnt days, too, clouded with emotion
Fervent spirit doused for an hour or two, yet
Toad-in-a-hole breakfasts kept flying out of her kitchen
Into our hearts and souls, all four of us children

I remember her pans as I retrieve my own small one
From the dishwasher, not as clean as I would like
The glass still living with some of last night’s meal
My carelessness, the wrong machine setting

I remember we had no dishwasher then, a luxury,
Washed by hand, each greasy skillet or brownie pan
Thus why the grease remained, no doubt, what strength
Do children have to scrub away the toughest stains?

Tools at my disposal, I begin to work, fingers dry and sore
From steel wool combined with cleaning powder that
Lasts as long as I do to see every last speck of memory stain
Removed forever, or until the next chicken Marsala bakes

–Victoria Emmons, ©2017

The Other Side

I’m on the right
You’re on the left
Sometimes you drift my way
Other times I drift yours

Often we meet
In the middle
Best of all
Warm up to each other

Now your side stripped bare
Too cold to creep over there
Empty and void of feeling
Plumped-up pillows for no purpose

Evening routine remains
Regimented, predictable
Yet morning cries reality
Evidence of attempts to reconcile

Edging slightly your way
Blanket all askew
Tugged by unknown forces
Mystic, ghost-like visions

The other side of my bed
Still lies in wait
For your arrival
That never comes

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

Birthday Boxes

Three candles and chocolate cake
Crowned with vanilla ice cream
Balloons flutter and bob in the air
Too high to salvage

A young girl mouthes “Hi Daddy” in silence
Surrounded by a windy Hawaiian day
And friends around the birthday table
One sister on her right, another her left

The colorful scene on a bright morning
Forever captured in a 16-millimeter tin
When Mother baked specialties to please
And tied boxes with pretty bows

A perfect moment savored for all time
Until the next year arrives in glorious fashion
And another and another until finally
Surprise at number seventeen

Twelve friends hiding in a room
Offer sudden smiles, song and love
A pile of presents to open
Music and dancing fill the air

Fifty years, a second surprise
Colleagues appear unannounced
Claiming they knew not the day
The same as seventeen, only older

Laughter, gin and candles play
In the twilight of life
Gazing at photos that must be me
A younger, more attractive version

Each year, I succumb to the day
That I chose to enter the world
Bake my own cake, sweet frosting on top
Blow out the last candles

—Victoria Emmons, copyright 2017

Longing

I know how to define longing
Feeling it as I do this day
With joyful news that I
Cannot share with you.

Longing to speak with you
To hear your laughter amidst
Guttural sounds that create
Music for my soul.

We now speak only in code
Your message somewhat blank
And mine only hesitant
Lacking in style or craft.

Longing so real that it hurts
A deep, agonizing pain
That makes me want to fly away
To a far-off destination.

I have nowhere to fly
Only stuck in my memories
Lost in dreams gone by
Longing for what will never be.

–Victoria Emmons  © 2016

What to do

Gypsy

When daylight offers
Nothing more than
Funny cat videos
For eight hours

And blinds are meant
To remain shuttered
Food never consumed
Nor books devoured

The real cat awakens me
Her claws prick my neck
Startle me from a dreamland
Of fanciful dancing and love

My anger frightens her and me
She finds solace under a chair
I find it online in a site
Leading me elsewhere

A story on detergent choices
Liquid, powder or pacs
To clean the oils and scents
He left on my sheets

Buzz

A familiar buzz creates the strange backdrop of my kitchen, and my world. The sound of distress is repeated often in my head, but now it lives. I cannot locate the source. It continues to fill the cool air of an October morning. Where is he? I heard him in pain, buzzing so loudly that I must listen. He wants my attention as he cries for help.

I wait. I must be dreaming, my head repeats. He is gone. He no longer lives on this Earth. But then again, I want to think otherwise. I want to believe the signs that he flew my way six years past. The flutter of his wings upon my cheek. His flight was soft and gentle, aiming for me, for my face. Certain it was he, I broke into laughter. No disrespect, my love, but your wings tickled my nose. Made me smile. I knew it was you, free from pain.

So why now? Why this distress call to me? I look in every room as the sound grows in voice. That buzz remains. I cannot find you. Searching every fold of the house in which I call my home, but not really home since you are not here. Or are you? They tell me I am mad. La Femme Folle. But ’tis only folly, I know. I believe you, mon cher ami. Mon amant, mon amour. I believe you.

And there you are. Upside down, with your tiny wiggling legs. There you are wedged between the bends of a blue kitchen towel. You buzz with vigor, waiting to be freed. Who said a fly should be let free? You chose to be there, mon ami. You wanted to fly, so I let you free. Fly away now, safe to the outside air. Come alive. Don’t die. Keep flying. I love you.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Morning

The night before change
wolves sing out under a
faraway moon on a steep hillside
whose walls echo their sad cries
’til dawn rearranges the world.

A wet nose rubs against
my feet, says good morning,
awakens my senses to
the hour, later than usual
given daylight savings.

Bark of a different kind outside
where my puppy protects her
new yard from predator
squirrels who leap without care
from limb to limb.

Morning greets too soon, as all
must adjust internal clocks
to a man-made idea of time
headed toward a new spring
leaping to the future.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2016

Flour

Flour’s in my candles
Wipe the kitchen down
Dusty piles of powder
Blowin’ all around

Ne’er thought I’d find all
That sifted, white ground
From drawer to floor
Floatin’ into mounds

But there it lived in
Every tiny crack
Chasin’ the day’s work
Breakin’ mama’s back

Pies and fresh pastries
Sweet raspberry tarts
Takes a lot of flour
And lots of false starts

Ain’t easy bakin’
Those cookies and cakes
Need a lil’ helper
For goodness sakes

Tie up his apron
Give him a good spoon
Young lad must learn
This cookin’ real soon

Flour goes a flyin’
Countertops to walls
Small fingers playin’
Makin’ castles tall

In between buildin’
Draw a shape or two
Learn to use a rollin’ pin
Pies for me and you

Smell the huckleberries
Picked right off the vine
Sprinkle ‘em with sugar
Add some brandy wine

Gentle with the crust, lad,
Crown must not fly high
Seal the edges now
Pinch, pinch, pinch the pie

Straight into the oven
Let’s all clap our hands
Flour rainin’ down
Formin’ mountains of sand

Forty minutes pass
Oven’s sweet perfume
Wafts throughout the house
Into every room

Timer wakes us all
Plates ready to go
The boy still plays
Apron fallin’ like snow

Thus my red candles
Got covered in white
Wouldn’t trade a speck
Of that wonderful sight!

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015

Letters

First placed in a dresser drawer
Migrated to a shoebox
Burgeoned to a steamer trunk
Hidden away in a space in the wall
Letters kept safe over 50 years
Uncovered in a renovation

Home owners open them one by one
The story of two lovers unfolding on paper
Over time, through wars, marriage
And children born and died, the letters
Filled with life and hidden passion
Secrets that only lovers share

Those who discover the musings
Seek to find the children, now grown,
With no inkling of correspondence
Between mother and father, letters
Revealing struggles, patience, deep love
And devotion one to the other

Email is not wrapped in purple ribbon
Nor kept in a dresser drawer, perhaps
An iCloud drawer to be savored later
Or uncovered like Ashley Madison clients,
Not quite the same as thin Air Mail paper
With the familiar red, white and blue logo

Invisible Wings

The door opens to a flutter of wings
that swoop in the dark before my eyes,
unseen, yet a whisper of wind foretells.

Wings up to nothing but mischief, no doubt,
like a foal that kicks up its heels in an open field
joyous at the very suggestion of life.

Wings that follow the wind to where it leads
then capture moonlit flights to nowhere
and laugh at the twinkling stars above.

Wings that spell voracious hunger to search
for tiny unsuspecting creatures seeking light
and warmth through the cool, summer night.

Wings squeezed into a dime-size sliver of space
to spend the morning hours in sleep while
others begin the motion of daily routine.

Wings that share my house and come out
to play whilst I dream of rainbows and rivers,
invisible wings that disappear for another day.

–Victoria Emmons, copyright 2015