Central New York Branch
My grandparents’ summer place,
country kitchen with green cast iron cookstove.
Pantry room to right of sink unit.
A tableau to explore.
Plant in the window, metal tea-cart nearby.
We sit. Table topped in white and red enamel holds glasses.
Homemade and icy-sweet lemonade ready this July morning.
The pitcher, earthenware brown with tan bottom, brimming,
blends into a scene I cannot forget.
A second pitcher, deep brown ceramic, displayed atop
sink’s counterspace, waits its turn.
My aunts talk, plan the day: a walk to town,
pie-baking soon, before the day’s heat impedes desire.
Afternoon ride to the bay for dinner’s fresh fish.
Maybe some time for clamming, reading on the porch.
Happy laughter between sips and stories, as bright as lemons.
Tartness lost in the telling and sharing.
Strong vessels, these women. Essence of family:
the aunts, my grandmother, my mother and me.
Lives simple, but never uncomplicated.
Comfortable in this moment,
pouring out their lives.
Shaping mine without knowing.
“Together, 1955” was created for an ekphrastic event at the Auburn, New York’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center’s 2018 Made in NY Show. Skaneateles, New York, artist Gary Trento’s painting “Two Pots” brought me back to my grandparents’ kitchen in East Hampton, New York. The ceramic pitchers reminded me of those my family used long ago, leading to a reflection on the ordinary, yet wonderful times of family interaction that can affect a growing child. — Janet Fagal