The Forever Hours: Three Poems

By Suellen Wedmore

Days Rolling, Uncounted

I remember those summer days when I was 9 and 10, rolling uncounted,
        uncountable, like marbles spilling from the Mason jar on my bedroom bureau:
micas, puries, swirlies, glimmers, and bloods─spheres that cast gold and red,
        shimmering greens across my bedroom wall as the sun descended
in the late afternoon sky. A skinny child with bony knees and tangled hair,
        as I poured my morning cornflakes, my eyes lifted to the kitchen window,

toward a path into the woods where fern and pine called to me: those days
        of “Big Curlicue,” a woodland Indiana hill named for the sun-curled grasses
I adopted as my own. At school my teacher was reading The Song of Hiawatha
        and what I wanted was to bathe in the warm greens and violet shadows
of the illustrator’s watercolor palette. I wanted to hear the owlet
        talking in its native language. I imagined wearing moccasins

as I ran that dappled path, the crunch of pine needles beneath pounding feet,
        or I believed I might be Cynthia Ann, the Texas girl
from a library book, kidnapped by the Apache at about my age,
        who, when found, refused to return to what grownups called
the “civilized” world. One August afternoon, after picnicking alone
        at the edge of a clearing where goldenrod and asters clumped

into a wall of color, I forgot a half-dozen marshmallows in a brown paper bag,
        abandoning them to the sun, and found, days later, on re-opening
the bag, an unexpected sweetness. Thrusting fingers into syrupy goodness,
        I licked, chewed, and swallowed. How rich, I know now,
time’s gift to a growing child. I remember the goldenrod’s exuberant blaze,
        knowing even then, but not quite believing, that the blossoms

would soon be brown and hard, the petals of the aster would dissolve
        into a downy flutter and be swallowed by wind, and that, at the top of the hill,
beside a rock, a decomposing catbird lay. As summer waned, Big Curlicue
        merged into a mist of passing days, but I still believe that what the sun-
glazed hills offered me was what I wanted for myself. And I did have that,
        didn’t I? The forever hours of childhood, for two long summers.

Thyme, Unraveling Time
─Burlington, Vermont: 1964

She feels weightless as she unlocks the door
despite the infant in her arms, twelve pounds
of wiggle and warmth, to step into the tiny apartment,
painted an edgy greenish-blue, dissonant

as an untuned flute, and yet “It’s ours,” she thinks
as she glides through the two rooms, sneakered feet
barely touching the worn carpet, the gray linoleum floor.
“Home!” she tells the baby, unbuttoning his sweater,

gentling him onto the hand-me-down sofa bed.
She feels her life unfolding now, like the pages
of a musical score, days absent exams, term papers,
a professor’s droning voice, without the unspoken

expectations of her parents’ home. Hours she can infuse
with her own pianissimo: a morning nap, perhaps,
an adagio afternoon stroll. Capriccio
double-timing it into town for a cup of tea,

a lively tour of Woolworths Five and Ten.
Afternoons she sings with the Beatles, unobserved
except by the child propped on the counter,
her off-tune lyrics spinning at 45 RPM into a kitchen

redolent of formula, onions and Velveeta cheese.
They dine on an oilcloth-covered table on a budget
of $17.00 a week, supermarket bargains except
for trips to the nearby butcher, a smiling, burly man

who boosts her culinary skills by scribbling instructions
on shiny white butcher paper: Eye of round: 325 °
40 mins. Season w/ salt, pepper. Fresh sprig of thyme.

Evenings, the baby asleep in a corner in a bureau drawer,

her husband opens the sofa bed into a tangle
of blankets and wrinkled sheets and she lays
down, her arm across his chest, content in this
momentary harbor. The assurance of skin.

Seventy Candles

Hey! It’s me, still here, snappy,
as a wet crow, master of my own
jagging through the days with
                a spunky
inelegance, awkward but not
                a bit ashamed,
knowing the how and when
                of not much,
independent of nutritionists, moralists,
                a connoisseur
of bourbons, bath salts, and cappuccinos,
about hand-loomed huipils, jeans
with wildflowers, tomatoes seeded from
                last year’s
gazpacho, with conversation over a dram
                of Scotch.
What I want is French bread lathered
        with Roquefort cheese,
lemon thyme in a terra cotta pot, a mate
                for life
without pre-nuptial agreement or
                sex toys,
a front lawn like my father’s, un-mown,
with buttercups. I want to hear a small voice
                on the phone,
asking, “Grammie, whatcha doin’?”

Poet Laureate emerita of Rockport, Massachusetts, Suellen Wedmore has published three chapbooks: Deployed, winner of the Grayson Press annual contest; On Marriage and Other Parallel Universes, with Finishing Line Press; and Mind the Light, first place winner of the “Women on the Edge” contest and published by Quill’s Edge Press. Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and awarded first place in two Writer’s Digest poetry contests. After 24 years working as a speech and language therapist in the public schools, she entered the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College and graduated in 2004.