To Make It Summer [poem] by Sheila Bender

Grandma, sit out front in a lawn chair on the grass
and talk with the neighbors in Yiddish.  Tell me to watch
out that I don’t get too near the edge of the lake.

Grandpa, light your cigar and walk away
from the talking; come back to dance
with me standing on your shoes.
Take me frog hunting.  Let me feel
the amphibians’ wet, slippery skin in my hands.

Aunt Shirley, call out that tomorrow
morning the baker will be by to pedal
his Danish and donuts and that kids should
sometimes have a breakfast of sugar,
a thing my mother doesn’t know.

Sister, whisper about the horses you saw
in the field. Make the neighing sound you practice
and practice as if you could talk in horse language.

Father, arrive in your black and white Chevy. Take out
the chocolate covered marble Halvah you brought;
put it on the flowered plate along with the dessert knife;
talk with us until we have eaten even the last crumbs.

Mother, come out onto the porch to say it is bedtime
while I am collecting fireflies to keep in a jar.
Fireflies glow off and on and off and on while I
listen to the leaves rustle me to sleep.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This story refers to the poem “Sand” by Stephen Kuusisto.]

Image by Moyan Brenn

Sheila Bender, founder of Writing It Real, an online resource community for people who write from personal experience, teaches at writers’ conferences around the country and in her hometown of Port Townsend, WA. Her books include Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, a collection of poetry; A New Theology Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, a memoir; and Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down, a recently re-issued book on creative writing co-authored with Christi Killien Glover. Other titles are from McGraw-Hill and her own imprint, Writing It Real. She has served as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Seattle University and is learning the art of gardening.