Poem by Melissa de Haan Cummings


Reflections 1958. Milton Avery (1885-1965)

On the eve of my seventy-sixth birthday

on the eve of my seventy-sixth birthday
twenty degrees Fahrenheit
northeast wind fourteen nauts

for the first time in twenty-five years
I skated on Days Pond
up the street from my house
probably skated there
for the first time about forty
years ago standing with
Buddy Silva’s wife Barbara
while her Brian and my Joe
skated as five year olds do
all of us chatting

so today my seven year old grandson
warned me to be careful
as he led me across the ice
to a lovely dock
be very very careful here
that’s twenty-five carefuls
because it’s twenty five years
lace his and his brother’s skates
O you tie them just the way Dad does!
How many ways are there?
O lots of ways.
Here’s the puck!
It’s stuck in the ice!
Dylan!  Get it out!
Dylan got the puck!
O Good!
I got the puck!
There’s ice stuck to it!
Lace and tie my skates
and put one blade on the ice
Not standing on that.
Try the other.  Nope.
Turn onto my knees on the dock
grasp its corner post and then
down with a skate
Hold my hand.  O gladly.
Now bend forward
Two hands on the stick
Don’t bend too far
Are you comfortable?
I’ll let you know
Are you having fun?
I’ll let you know
I bet you’re having fun!

There’s Nana with baby Colton!
Here, Sata, give me your stick
Riley puts his and my sticks
under his arms parallel to the ice
for me to hold.  I hold happily
am glided to Nana

Are you ready to play hockey yet?
Not yet. I’m practising.
OK well this is how you go backwards
It’s called C ing.  See the marks my skate makes?
That’s a C.  Ready for the crossovers?  No.
Dylan performs one.  Hockey now
What’s that board?
We use that for a goal
The other goal is a pair of shoes
I have a big pair of shoes
You can play goal because
you won’t have to skate.
I drop my stick.  Oh-oh.
I’ll get it for you, Sata.

After an hour the boys are cold and leave
Riley having me untie his skates
so his hands won’t get cold
although they do when they
have to squeeze a foot into a shoe
Leave the puck on the dock
Take up my skate guards
and skate them to my big boots
Put guards in boots
push both toward Nana’s
with my stick where the reeds
are frozen into the ice and
where there is an upright
two by four to sit on
able to bend where
the security of the reeds
makes a solid floor
Sit on the board and
successfully remove
skates remembering
twenty five years back
to wipe down the blades
with my green tissues
having practiced thirty minutes more
very slow and o so pleased to have
met the challenge as turning thirty
I jogged around Walden Pond
turning sixty I leapt from a boulder
at Cambridge Beach onto Danger Rock
where my father rescued me from
the outgoing tide when I was
probably five or six

Then I took a two and a half hour
woods walk with Marge
delighted to have warm
and functional feet
nothing adverse but a tired back

Sata!  Did you have a good time?

Melissa de Haan Cummings

melissa2bcummingsMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at 
Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals. 
 She describes her interests as including, “much small boating around Cape
 Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”

Your comments are more than welcome. We prefer to know your real name. Please tell us what you think, and why. Thank you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s