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October 2013, vol 9, no 3

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Donna Fleischer


Mine

front lawn –
an antique tub fills
with flowers

I bathe in the white porcelain claw tub in the white house with the forest green working shutters in the white working class neighborhood where I live with grandparents, mother, and the giant elm tree lighthouse friend dispatching all hide-and-seekers to four corners of the neighborhood from its mooring at the top of the gravel driveway to my house.

Here's my three-window bedroom. There's the neighbor's blue spruce where we hide behind its first floor branches trying to be quiet snoops. The middle window, which oversaw the rose arbor, is another story. Through the last window I crawl outside to dormer roof for the Breughelian view: an ample back yard slopes into an embankment of sprawling, wild growth-covered paths and steep curved ravines we slide down, righting our runners over the thinly-iced brook into dense woods, disappear.

From the kitchen cellar stairs a massive cast iron coal furnace, set-tub with wringer washing machine, hatchway to the backyard clothesline, and my pipe dream pirate ship storage room, with two casements, shelved Ball jars glinting of tomato, apple sauce. During a flood our coal furnace roared with food cooking. I liked feeling scared by its blasts when I'd open it to stare inside, hypnotized by blurry, glowing, orange black rocks, while heat bit at my eyelashes.

Two living room windows overlook a grand front porch where I build rooms with chairs and blankets during thunderstorms. I recall the afternoon IT arrived: a diminutive glass screen encased in a large wooden cabinet with a cloth speaker grille in front and a tan pegboard backing that enclosed a planet of glass tubes. I'd get to carry one to the corner drugstore where I'd test it, with Mike the pharmacist's help. All that for one TV station!

I look again up the curving balustrade to the second floor. The one I slide down to breakfast; the one she will grip going up for the last time. My grandfather and I hold hands as the medics carry her out the front door on a stretcher, from her bedroom where I'd just wiped white foam from her mouth. We watch her shrouded outline pass by — the one who holds me sleepless; lifts me, breasts on my cheeks, from the deep, claw tub where I'd snorkled with goggles, lifts me in a swinging arc up and across to the toilet seat lid, toweling me off in the steamy room. That space she was, empty ever after in me.

David's slumped Marat
white tub of still water
quill dripped ink




crane