GOING HOME

GOING HOME

My plane is airborne, headed south.

Memories march in and out of my mind–

like dogface soldiers.

I’d said goodbye to Mama, then Daddy,

who bent to hug my three year old son

not very long ago.

Emotion struck Daddy like blows.

He straightened, then turned too late

to hide moist eyes.  His blue eyes had

laughed when I was my son’s age.

Youth disappears like the dandelion fuzz

on the face of the wind.

Adams Field is windy . . . but the

planes’ wheels touch the runway

in a smooth landing.

“No, son, Papa’s not here . . .

to meet us.”

Uncle Jim’s brown pickup needs washing.

“Your mama’s taking it bad, ” he tells me.

“Is the wake at the house?” I ask.

He nods. “Like your daddy wanted.”

At the doorway, someone takes my

little boy by the hand.

“The casket’s gray. I never saw Daddy

in a coat and tie before. He’s so cold-looking.

Mama? Mama!”

Her warm arms engulf me.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

Daddy

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 11

Banner Mountain Girl #11

On Banner Mountain, I stand looking at the house, now empty, with brush around it, deserted, falling down. I see the well still covered. I listen for sounds of laughter. Echoing from the past, the sounds ring in my heart. In a flash of memory, someone’s drawing water from the well—and as I look at the house, I wish I could be a child again and put my bare feet into a creek. I wish that I could feel the sun upon my back as I walk barefoot down a dusty road. That I could touch velvety moss in the woods and hear dry leaves crackling.

And draw water from the well.

I wish that I could hear the whippoorwills across the hollow on a warm night. And that I could sit on the front porch again with Mama, Daddy, my sister Yvonne and my brother Bill. Just sit there, not talking much. Then wander into the yard, trying to stay cool. Wash my feet in a pan of cold water and go into the house and go to bed. And see again the morning sun on the tall, thick yard grass, and look at hollyhocks that Mama planted beside the fence.

Draw water from the well.

Watch Mama milk Old Jerse, and later help Mama churn butter in an old-fashioned churn with a dash. Watch Daddy plow the fields. I wish I could once again trade a warm egg to the peddler for bubble gum. Meet Piggy, the mailman, at the mailbox to see what delightful cards, catalogs and letters he would bring. Read again the letters from my best friend, Inez, that Piggy delivered the same day by hand-canceling the three-cent stamp. See Mama sitting in the shade of the peach tree, shelling beans, then stopping to read a letter from my brother when he was overseas during the war.

I remember growing up, and, with Inez, Doris, and Lois Jean, watching for the boys to go by. I remember pie suppers and boys collecting money to buy the cake for the prettiest girl. I recall dinners on the ground, the taste of coconut pies. People visiting. Children playing and laughing. Time unhurried. I cannot be a child again, but I’m thankful for Banner Mountain – whippoorwills, picking cotton and drawing water from the well.

~© Freeda Baker Nichols

 

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–#9

I WISH I COULD . . .  put my bare feet into a stream of water and be a child again.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Beside the Creek in Autumn

I wish I could feel the sun warm upon my back as I walk barefoot down a dusty road in summer.

I wish I could touch the velvety soft moss that grows in the woods, and hear again the crackle of dry leaves under my feet. Heaven is here on Earth in the forests. Nature is the pure, clean sparkling beauty that God gave us to enjoy.dsc_0081dsc_0085

I wish I could . . . hear again . . . the whippoorwill across the hollow on a still, warm night. And the mockingbird that perched on the roof of the house, singing sweetly, when I returned from a date.. . . the sounds of my happy teenage world. dsc_0661
I wish I could see again the morning sun upon the tall, thick yard grass in the spring at Banner Mountain.

My happy memory–the wonder of love in my heart for God, my love for Nature and for the people who love me.

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BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–Part Five

Banner Mountain Girl – Part Five

From my Journal, dated 8 Sept. 1977: It’s lonely, trying to write. I have no one to share with, no one who understands what I do. I don’t know why I want to write. I feel I must write. A writer must have patience, persistence, desire.
From my journal, dated 1 Oct 1977, Saturday:
The desire to write has been a part of me for so long, surfacing every now and then in painful attempts to write something for others to read, but always being pushed back inside where it lies dormant until something revives it. I’m not succeeding with anything– not yet, except letters to the editor, but even those were a beginning, a thrill for me because they were well-spoken of, and talked about on the radio and reprinted in other papers. I felt joy because of those published pieces. I would like, of course, to write something for money– something that would stand on its own merit and become an article widely read and one that people would like and understand.
13 Sept. 1977: Life of a writer is a lonely road, open at each end. Do I go forward and find new rewards or retreat to familiar places? I, alone, can make the choice.
28 July 1978: I mailed my story, “Tadpoles Can’t Bite,” to Homelife today. I hope they like it and use it.
1 Sept. 1978:” Tadpoles Can’t Bite” didn’t impress the editor who read it but I still think it has a lot of value and placed in the right hands, it will make it to the people.
© 2016 Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL-Part Four

Banner Mountain Girl—Part Four
The Egg and I
I have a special memory of walking barefoot in the dust on Banner Mountain–a remembrance of carefree childhood days. No time was more exciting than when the peddler came. Sometimes, the egg in my hand was still warm when I took it from the hen’s nest and ran and skipped down the road to where the peddler was. I traded the egg to him for bubble gum. Sweet. Juicy. Bubble gum.
The peddler was a man by the name of Sampson Hooten. I have been told that he had a yellow mare with a white star in her forehead. Many years later, his son told me this. I don’t claim ever knowing the peddler’s name and I don’t recall what he looked like. The only thing I remember about that experience is the warm egg and the taste of bubble gum. From that memory, I wrote this poem after I became a full-fledged poet. (Note: The peddler’s name in the poem is changed to match the rhyme)
Eggs for Bubble Gum
I traded eggs still warm for bubble gum
and always gave my baby sister some.
We blew big bubbles, like balloons of pink,
until they burst and stuck upon our cheeks.
We both blew bubbles quickly as a blink.
I liked the gum I got from Peddler Weeks
and always gave my baby sister some.
I traded eggs still warm for bubble gum.

This is a Lil-Ann Form. It’s published in “Poems by Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas.”
. . . . .
From my journal, dated 28 November 1977 – The rain falls friendly but cold upon the roof in this November nighttime. Steadily, gently, it falls to an unwelcoming earth, already saturated with moisture. Oak trees with brown leaves stand unmoving, unreal, symbols of fall, an announcement of winter.
© 2016 Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL — part three

FROM MY JOURNAL:

Dated 1 Oct. 77   “I like the story, “Violets from Portugal,” by Helene Carpenter but I can’t write like that–not yet anyway, perhaps not ever. But I want to, how very much I want to write about my inner feelings concerning life and situations in my own life. The desire to write has been part of me for a long time.”

My earliest memory of wanting to write was when I was about nine years old and I wrote a poem about my mother. It was a short rhymed verse. I still have the original copy tucked away somewhere in my files on a sheet from a Big Chief tablet.  I suppose it will be an important item if I ever become famous.

Another entry in my journal:

Dated 19 Feb. 79    Quoting my daughter Tracy, “Mom, you shouldn’t want fame.”

My reply in the journal:  “Fame, though, for my writing would mean I have accomplished the goal and fulfilled the desire to write. Fame for itself is probably not rewarding, but fame as proof of success is nothing more than an exclamation mark after an exclamatory sentence. Hurray. Hurray! Quite necessary for emphasis, I’m afraid.”

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL

Banner Mountain Girl–Part Two

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Summer evenings of my childhood were spent with the family sitting on the front porch. Usually, we kids roamed around the yard catching lightning bugs and dropping them into a fruit jar with holes punched in the lid so they could breathe. With their bright lights going on and off, they lit up the jar until we tired of playing and set them free.  We listened to the song of the whippoorwill as the bird of night sang contentedly from his place out on the dirt road which was edged by tall pines and sheltering oaks. Sometimes a mockingbird sang, too, from the highest point at the top of the house.

The house that daddy built was designed with a gable roof of oak wood shakes. The two sides joined together forming an upside-down V shape. At that point in front of the house, the mockingbird sat to sing, even late at night with only the moon glow to see by. The slant of the roof over the porches angled down, supported by cedar posts with limbs trimmed short to serve as a catch-all. Lard buckets hung on the back-porch posts and were filled with ripening tomatoes in summertime. Or if nothing hung on the posts’ limbs, they were just right and smooth for a kid to climb up and down to get rid of over-active energy.  How can a child be perfectly still as adults? Not even one of us kids could be still as our contented parents were.

Does anyone sit on front porches anymore?  Probably not. Banner Mountain summers are so hot that people nowadays perhaps lounge inside their homes with the air conditioner running full speed. And likely as not, kids are punching on iPhones. Modern architecture has done away with the use of smooth cedar posts at edges of porches. Many houses are built with only a stoop or a small porch at the entry. A place to go in and out as today’s “Mountaineers” hurry and scurry on their way to all that awaits them beyond the rise—out there in the world. Perhaps only a stone’s throw to work or school. But far away from the sound of June bugs buzzing and the sight of flashing lights in a fruit jar.

Surely, the summers of long ago were not as wonderful as they appear in my memory. But even if in memory they are magnified five times over, I know how happy I was to feel the pure dust of Banner Mountain between my bare toes.

© Freeda Baker Nichols