I found this book…when I turned nine
sunburned…pool-wet…is how I came across it
for the very first time
I was quoting whole passages from memory at ten…loving that sad little family
reading it over and over…again and again.
Francie was sweet…a girl of my age…like no one I knew…so much more than a character on a page
She was a latch-key child before the term was ever known
no warm winter coat for the 12 block trip from school to home
Her daddy was as an immigrant…from Ireland he’d fled
his loves were song and liquor…his once lovely wife… and tucking his precious girl into bed
Francie would hear him coming…an unmistakable baritone
charming porch sitters and well-wishers on his nightly walk home
I love this book…mourn the loss of that precious paperback, found on a bookshelf in our home… on that hot summer afternoon…so many many years ago
It sat next to a curling vine of ivy…variegated…a healthy green
just waiting for me to find and devour…dwell within its 200 pages
transported to Brooklyn and Francie’s home
a ticking clock marked the hours
Did my mom read it first?
Did she place it there for me to find?
Does she recall our solemn discussions about Francie…her Irish immigrant waiter father…
his accented crooning made her bairn’s heart leap and skip a beat
every time she heard his drunken plaintive
“Sweet Adeline” coming down the street
We spoke for days of Francie’s dear mother…old before her time…
energy-drained…exhausted body and soul…no twinkle left in her violet eyes…
an ancient love for her Johnny…in a language of resigned sighs
She scrubbed the floors of rich women
until glossed…gleaming…and shining
hurried home to her precious girl
that nighttime walk was when she did her crying
She worried about leaving her daughter alone each and every night
the times when Johnny stopped for a brew or two
Francie ate cold meals…had no milk to help her grow
Her mother was pretty…once herself…softly curling locks of chestnut and red
her mostly drunken husband was once a charming lad
his baritone first made her own heart sing…
still deep within…heart bells still ring
I recall those times with a fondness I carry within
pray my mother still can recall it all…our first of hundreds to share.
It was the moment US began!
Jill Sharon Kimmelman was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, in Poetry and Best Of The Net 2018. Publications include Vita Brevis Press, Spillwords Press, Yasou! A Celebration Of Life Ezine, Compositor, Writing In A Woman’s Voice blogspot, Poetic Musings, Delaware Boots On The Ground, and Better Than Starbucks. Her passions include reading aloud, “cooking from the heart”, theatre, lively book discussions, and photography. She lives in Delaware with her husband Tim, and is the proud mother of her son Jordan.