While looking through some old things, I found a poem my mother
had written for me years ago. It’s in an envelope with my name on it.
I think it was a Christmas present. Here it is, word for word.
Over-seas a war was raging with death and the bomber’s roar
When for us came a lucky week-end off from the shipyards in Baltimore.
The autumn twilight came slowly, the Saturday night was warm
When we two in the car together rode away to the farm.
As ‘over the hills and through the woods’ to Grandfather’s house we went
We talked of the times we used to know and the happy hours we’d spent.
When brothers and sisters from miles around all gathered to spend the day
We spoke of the brother who had died and the ones who had moved away.
When Gramp and Gram from the doorway greeted us each the same,
If we brought tales of wealth or position or just a new grand-child to name.
The old house would be filled to the rafters, but always room for more
With small Haddie bedded down in the bath tub and babes in the dresser drawers.
And if it should chance to be Christmas how gaily the time would pass.
With a game or dance and a song or two and all would join in too.
Annt Lizzie would play the piano. (Her cheeks rivaled red apple’s shine.)
Uncle Hubie would dance the heel and toe, Aunt Kate would beat the time.
We’d gather round the Christmas tree, with gifts and the balsam scent.
Each dressed in their holiday best til was time for the Midnight Mass.
We’d hear noels from an Irish tenor in that little church on the hill
And the parish priest in Christmas robes wished us all peace and good will.
When the Mass was over old friends would stop to chat
(Once old Huey ~Meah~ in his rush to a bar grabbed Ernie’s brand new hat!)
Then home in the frigid moonlight – it would have been half past two
We’d gather round and break our fast with bowls of oyster stew.
Those were the things we talked about as the old road turned to the right
And the sunset bathed the evergreen hills in a soft September light.
We turned at last in the driveway past the well with its lilac roof
And we stopped beside the farm house with its stucco weather proof.
In that familiar doorway to the kitchen warm and dim
We were met with a blast of music of a square-dance somewhere within.
Could it be that the old crowd had gathered? We knew that could not be true
For some had died and others strayed and the ones who were left were few.
We tiptoed along the hallway past the stairway in between
And stood in the door of the parlor while we held our breaths unseen.
There Gramp on his couch and Gram in her chair with a radio for company
All alone in the night to a square dance tune were saying the Rosary!
We watched in silence for moments while the music swung and swayed
And we said each Ave and Pater to the tune of ‘All Promenade’.
Then we silently crept back o’er the threshold and left with our greetings unsaid
For they’d finished their day and were ready, with their Rosary done, for bed.
That was the last time I saw the farm where the spruces grow pointed and free
Where the old hills cuddle beneath the snows with their souvenir memories.
But I feel Gramp and Gram are still sitting there with the lamplight on silver hair
Saying the beads slowly one by one with hands worn by a family’s care.
He on the couch and she in her chair with a radio for company
All alone in the night with their life-long faith, they’re saying the Rosary.