and our ticket this week, thanks to Bus Driver Barbara, is to use the opening line
"I got down on my knees and smelled the new linoleum..."
One Last Gift
I got down on my knees and smelled the new linoleum
that dressed the kitchen floor
of my grandmother’s house in cherry red,
luscious red, the red of ripe berries
tangling with sweet madness all along the weathered wood fence down the hill.
Sweet madness it is in my grandmother’s house,
echoing the gentle madness in her eyes
as she surveys the small world that is her kingdom, the new red floor
he laid for her in the winter of her life, to give her one last joy
before her mind retreats beyond the fence
into the wild untamed wood where spirits whisper in the high-flung trees.
I smell his ancient love for her, three-quarters of a century old,
as fresh as a bowl of red berries,
although she has drifted and barely knows him.
His love is plain in the precision of the laying, each tile snug against its mate
in the long procession across the floor.
His care for her lives in the perfect square
where tiles meet walls, a sign of the tenderness with which he treats her,
though she treats him
with the civility of strangers meeting for the first time.
Her new floor is a sea of cherries in which she may wade girlishly as she performs
the ancient chores of sink, stove, table, and ironing board,
an instinct she has not lost,
as she has not lost the habit of tying on the apron,
wielding the mop and dishrag,
keying open the can of Spam and frying it up with crisp white chunks of potato
to serve for supper with the tomatoes
he brought her this morning from the garden
and presented to her with a certain shy flourish, red fruit in a yellow bowl.
She acknowledged his gift with a nod of her head
and a lowering of those far-gazing eyes,
cloudy with spirits that long to leave
and drift down the hill to the wild wood beyond the fence
vanishing into the high-flung trees.
Start the tour here.