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The Slow Nights of Childhood

Memories of long summer nights
Safe in my grandmother’s kitchen
sitting on a cool radiator
watching the world’s mysteries unfurl
on the street beneath her window
safety represented by a large aproned lap
wedged between a covered broiler and 
a fruit-laden table
Hot static time
like in a Hopper painting
the way you’re always 
waiting for something to happen
A time when excitement and anticipation
were defined as waiting for the ice cream man
the slow nights of childhood
When a long day was peeled off the blister of summer
only to reveal a long starry night
with Good Humor at its peak
the slow days and nights of childhood in Brooklyn
When time was more something to be passed
than savored
when we hadn’t yet developed the need to savor it
when time was so limitless we couldn’t fathom
it ever being a precious resource
in need of conservation
When the sun went down on faded red bricks
formica and plaid cloth dishtowels
(long before Retro rendered brick and formica chic)
When grandmothers lived forever
forever presiding
providing comfort, stability and 
ricotta sandwiches fortifying us
to confront the confusing adult world
The quintessential grandmother in a kitchen in America
emblem of nurture, continuity and calm
snapshot in the landscape of a human life
The slow nights of childhood
that felt like forever —
Time suspended like an old family story
told and retold until it becomes myth
time suspended like a broken kitchen clock
still hanging on its yellowed wall
time suspended like a radio that won’t turn off
that won’t turn off 
Time suspended like an old photograph
closed in an album
in a rented storage unit
in another city
half a continent away.

© 2024 Gail Tirone. All rights reserved.

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