A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2007, vol 3 no 3

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Deb Baker


Long Lost List

Dad cleared out my grandmother's house recently, before selling the place. He sent me two boxes of things he thought I'd want. Among the musty books and squirreled away bargains in triplicate (a set of three kitchen towels with a July 4th theme, three pairs of black gloves), I came across Grandmother's recipe box. I went through it twice without finding the chop suey I remember.

lavender scent
cuttings hanging to dry
in my childhood

Tucked in the back with the newspaper clippings, I pulled out a shopping list, written in my own adolescent hand. Below the groceries, I doodled the names of some bands: the Go-Go's, Devo. The Kinks. AC DC, with a lightning bolt. On the back of the wrinkled paper, I'd scrawled notes on making my mother's deep dish pizza, followed by: "Menu G.M.'s birthday (Deb cooks) - salad - pizza - icecream-n-cake."

Until now, I was blithely unaware that I went through a cutesy spelling phase, nor do I recall my early heavy metal period. I can't picture the store in Allegan. I can't remember ever cooking at my grandmother's, though we visited every summer. I don't know what I was thinking when I doodled on this scrap of paper. I have no idea what I felt, or hoped, or even exactly how old I was. All of this is part of me, but most of it is lost - if Grandmother had not saved my list, this moment in my life would be gone.

black eyed susans
I sit under the windmill
watching bees

sun on my back
her white head bobbing
in a row of green beans

It's unnerving, sitting with my own children nearby, considering the limitations of memory and grasping in my mind's eye for my younger self. Like my fourteen year old son, she wriggles away from my attempted embrace.

photo of the farm
my special front porch spot
swallowed by shrubbery