Black and White

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The past was black and white back then,
the future, silvery bold.
The present, translucent and slightly hazy,
though memories shimmered gold.

Each year snuggled into eternity,
next week was a foreign land.
Some say this world was simpler then,
though I doubted that out of hand.

I was raised in a prosperous age
—they told me once I’d grown—
I warmly remember the icy glaze
inside the windows at dawn,
after a night with my door shut tight
and the coal fire smothered down,
I could see my breath when moisture met
the steely-cold surrounding.

A leap of faith propelled me
from under warm covers then,
to scurry fro on stiffening toes
to check if the pipes had frozen.
I’d run the tap with wonder
‘till the hot would finally end
its torturous crawl up between the walls
to start my circulation again.

Breakfast would wait until later,
after the newspaper route,
when I’d wash my hair with dish soap
to straighten my hat hair out.
We had a dog named Tippy
and a cat the girls saddled with Fluff;
a duck named George who was the scourge
of anyone he might rebuff.

Life was complicated enough
to slow my momentum down,
once or twice that black phone would ring
to report a grandparent gone.
Then the folks served a silent breakfast,
before rushing us off to school,
and heading out to our newest ancestor’s place
to help contain the spool.

I lived in dread of that black phone,
even into Junior High,
I knew what it had been capable of
when ringing late at night.
I’d lie beneath my covers,
pillow over my head,
and try to dream in technicolor scenes,
shivering to tame my dread.

I remember Spring smelling green back then,
with a sweet hint of violet,
an iris, lilac, and mock-orange memory,
with rose scent coloring it.
Autumn smelled of crisp brown leaves,
piled in alluring mounds,
sniffed from a choice strategic spot,
within, where we’d never be found.

Summers came and summers went
with Christmases tucked in between,
not one living day seemed black or white
when viewed from the places I’ve been.
While the future seems to have lost some sheen,
my memories still shimmer gold,
though I came from a time before reason or rhyme
into a world none foretold.

Merry Christmas

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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