Late afternoon, a mild October day,
the auction of my family’s property
is winding down. I sit in the side yard
and watch my mother’s upright piano
being hauled up the basement stairs outside.
I’m the last one left so I must sell it,
plus the two-hundred acres around it.
I threw up this morning before breakfast,
twice more during the six hour auction.
I was fine. My stomach knew otherwise.
For twenty-one years I called this my home.
A man tells me he’s bought the radio,
our old 1930s Philco console.
He and his wife will restore it, use it.
He says they’ll take good care of it for me.
Every December I sat before it,
listened to Billy the Brownie stories,
The Jack Benny Show, Joe Louis boxing,
Fibber McGee and Molly, my earpiece
to the outside world. I thank this kind man.
My stomach eases. Old things to new folks.
April 5, 1968
Red Emperor tulips gleam in the sun.
Chipping sparrows chirp beneath the bushes.
I paint my son’s bedroom robins’ egg blue,
roll swatches of color over dingy walls,
fill my lungs with the smell of fresh latex paint.
It would be a wonderful day except
Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered
last night in Memphis, shot before dinner.
WMAQ in Chicago
reports facts and rumors unfolding.
Overnight deejay Daddy-O-Daylie
entreats the people: Please stay home. Stay safe.
By 3:30 Madison Street’s burning,
forty-five miles away. At midday,
Barrington’s sports shop sells out of ammo.
I breathe in the fear that covers the day.
Giant goldfish swimming
in Harold’s stock tank
entranced me, a little girl
who knew nothing but the farm.
Now I call them koi,
but that doesn’t make them
any less wonderful,
teasing the cows’ tongues.
On our farm, whimsy was subtle,
like yellow sugar on white frosting.
Work was hard; play was rare,
but goldfish swam next door.
Barbara Germiat writes in Appleton, WI. Her poems have been published in Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets calendars, Fox Cry Literary Review, Peninsula Pulse, Sisters Today, and others. She’s lived in Wisconsin or Illinois all her life, has traveled in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada.
You can read an interview with her here.