Two Views of Home

Catherine Stearns

1. Grandmother’s Dollhouse
        - circa 1900

An oval mirror that could fit in a child’s hand
from a pocketbook of her mother’s
for the pond beyond the door

reflected the shimmering wings of four
candy wrappers turned nestlings. Copper
winding wire for the bird of paradise

(she’d seen pictures) next to the garden varieties
of dandelion clocks (cotton balls) and Annie’s lace
(embroidery thread) which, when she squinted,

contracted to three exact dots …
Despite the painted glass head
of a dressmaker’s pin, the door couldn’t open,

and the paper dolls she’d cut from the Sears
and Monkey Wards catalogues played out
all her other lives elsewhere.

2. Grandfather’s Barn

He stepped down from the rear axle
jelly legs shaking, engulfed
in the humidity of late afternoon

when the turning-over of the engine
and the shushing of the radiator
dissolved into the almighty

buzzing of August: mosquitoes,
deerflies, grasshoppers, cicadas;
ground juniper crunching underfoot.

Every day in the same place,
the blue shadow of a red barn door,
he listened, dependably amazed.

Catherine Stearns is writer-in-residence at The Roxbury Latin School in Boston. She is the author of the chapbook Then & Again.
Originally published:
April 1, 2018


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