Relative: Grandma West

I wrote this poem a few years ago as I remembered the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Grandma West's house in Orofino, Idaho.


The Table in the Sunroom

The rays from the evening sun glowed on the hollyhocks;

the windows of the sunroom framed Grandma’s tall gladiolus .

Dad wiped his reddened face,

the pitcher of ice tea sweating under the stifling heat.

Steam rose from the bowl of garden fresh beans --  

we  climbed to the back of the table

wedged between the Singer sewing machine and the old Kelvinator,

squeezed in the six chairs.


Corn on the cob was always in season.

 The kernels small and golden.

Grandma cut her kernels delicately off the cob,

I begged for the knife so I could do the same.

In a voice that even the neighbors could hear, Mom announced,

“You have good, strong teeth…

just eat it off the cob.”


Next a plate of tomato slices

followed by cooked beets and fried pork chops.

I lifted my legs as bare skin stuck to the chair,

while my brother was kicking my foot,

my baby sister’s damp hair stuck to her head.


From my seat I couldn’t gaze at Grandma’s garden

 or watch the bees buzz around the roses,

but I took in the slow table conversation

as I tried to cut up my tomato:

 Canning cherries, and Norm and growing cucumbers,

Konkleville, Canada Hill and cousin John came up.

Is that fire still burning out at Yellow Dog?

What is on special at the Glenwood Market?


Dad took his paper napkin and wiped his face again,

And told Grandma this was the best corn he had ever had.

Her eyes lit up as she rose from the table

And thank goodness headed to the old chest freezer.

Vanilla ice cream from the Orofino Creamery would be

passed around last.

The sun slipped behind the crabapple tree,

The shadows cooled the sunroom.

That cold vanilla ice cream was the best I had ever had.

by Christy Woolum

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