Poetry Advent Calendar Day 19

Day 19 and we have another poem by Carlinda D’Alimonte, this one focusing on childhood memories shared with a cherished sibling. Taken from her 2018 collection Morning Song about mourning.


Where We Walked


Let’s not go back

to winter evenings, sipping coffee
at the kitchen table,
the lights humming, a dusting
of flour coating our arms as mama
kneaded dough, and I untangling thoughts
as you laughed and laughed
that small things could mean
so much to me –

to Saturday afternoons, our skinny fingers
turning soapy circles over floors
making our way from room to room
and mama planting
geraniums and snapdragons
along the edges of our home
and the men and boys gone
to places we didn’t know –

to winter Sundays, the basement, abiding
its bricks and mortar, bare bulbs and braids
of garlic hanging from ceilings,
the old chesterfield leaning
against a bare wall, the long table
seating extended family, and under the din
of boisterous banter, listening to the furnace
whooshing and ticking and to ghosts we’d imagined
were caged in spaces beside us,
howling –

to summer nights we stayed up late,
the living room all to ourselves,
listening along with half the continent
to the Big 8 blasting the top forty,
the music teaching us to dance
to Motown and to sing to Ricky Nelson,
Diana Ross and later
the Beatles, the words
of Leonard Cohen –

to school mornings, our shared room, avoiding
contact, reaching into dresser drawers
that buried locked diaries under socks
and underwear, and standing at the old wardrobe
with mirrors on double doors
offering up reflections of ourselves
that were never good enough
and a selection of clothes
we hated to wear –

to winter mornings, the front window,
the two of us watching a world
that led to school and church
and for too long, nowhere else, a world
where we walked, you with friends,
me half a block behind, following
your steps, picking up traces
of words, worries –

to the front porch on summer evenings
listening to stories set across an ocean
about a time before I was born when you sat
on mama’s lap as she whispered promises
in a language we no longer use
and where you chased chickens
and goats, and the light mountain air
and all the spaces it filled was yours
to breathe

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