Matriarch in White

by Sam Morris

How many nights
have I approached this toothpick fence,
eager to warm myself inside?

The old swing squeaks as I walk past,
returning to mind sun dappled summer days
when I sat here, legs tucked, gently swaying.

In some ways you seem out of place
beside your brick and linoleum neighbors
whose flat structures boast
attached garages and central heat.

Yet you hold your head high,
a matriarch in white satin,
hair in a classic chignon,
your only jewelry an heirloom
string of pearls.

Over the years you’ve absorbed
the scenes of my life: my mother’s cool lips
on my face when I had chicken pox,
stairs that creaked when I crept, past curfew,
the porch where I blazed from my first kiss.

You witnessed Mother’s cries
when I told her I was off to Afghanistan.
Your dual chimney bat ears picked up
the high-pitched squeals of my little girl
as she tried out her first sled,
eyes squeezed shut, dark hair streaming.

Seasons continue to flow by,
neighbors move in and out,
the trees wear their leaves
and then let them go.
Still you abide.

At times, when I am home alone,
I catch the scent of oak and mildew,
I feel the energy humming within you
of generations whose memories
permeate your proud bones.


About the Author

Sam Morris is a poet living in West Lafayette, Indiana. By day, she works as a professional archivist, caring for historical documents, photos, and objects. Her poems have appeared in The Molotov Cocktail and Gimlet Eye.

“Victorian in Winter” by Peter Poskas. Photo courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum, one of Poor Yorick’s Museum Partners.