Little Altars Everywhere

I am tired of my dreams’ dark interiors
and the family ghosts who inhabit them.
It is July, and the man I love has brought home
Bing cherries and watermelon, the way my father used to
when I was a child, bags of groceries
jostling each other in the back seat of the station wagon,
daughters running out to the driveway
to carry them in with both arms. Downstairs, the rooms
sing, laughter and sun moving easily
from one to the next, a jar of white peonies
on the kitchen sill, a tawny cat
stretched out in glory on the dining room table.

Clink of ice cubes in tea,
hoops of wetness on coasters,
I will bring back these small things,
the freckles on my mother’s arm,
how the neighborhood was golden
that hour after supper, when the table was cleared
and there was nothing to regret. I will empty
this moldy hurt from my heart
until light fills its chambers, until there is room
for everyone from that house to enter
and know they are welcome.

– Francine Marie Tolf, “Summer Poem”

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