by Elizabeth Greene
I hated to leave that house behind,
the Rose of Sharon tree outside my window
the blueberry bushes, sandbox, swings.
I was seven.
I hated to leave
the ghosts of my first cats–Smokey One,
Smokey Two, Grey Greene, Copper and Felina.
Five cats in five years, vanished. My mother
too afraid of death to mark their passing,
bury or mourn them.
I hated to leave my friends,
double-jointed Linda who could walk
on her hands; Valerie, who ate fish on Friday.
I didn’t understand that
for my mother age seven meant tragedy,
the age her little brother died, hit by a car
nearly thirty years before, didn’t understand
how she lived in fear.
She might have felt
disaster hovering, might have sensed it was time to move.
Closing day came in the midst of storms.
Never put off a closing, our lawyer said.
The sale went through. Next day, the roof blew off.
In our new house, the power failed.
We weren’t at all sure about the furnace.
We stayed with a friend for a month.
I felt, at seven, the best of my life was over.
PHOTO: “Blue Window and Rose of Sharon” by Tina M. Wenger. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.
SOURCE: First appeared in the author’s collection Moving (Inanna Publications, 2010).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Moving” is the title poem of my second collection. It was a memorable move because I was leaving the fairly idyllic period of my early childhood behind, but also because of the storm, the staying at the home of a friend for a month, and just escaping being in the house when the roof blew off. When I wrote the poem, I remembered that seven had been a watershed age for my mother, too. The book Moving is about starting to move forward after a period of stasis, so “moving” has that undertone too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Greene has published three books of poetry, most recently Understories (Inanna Publications, 2014) and has a novel A Season Among Psychics forthcoming from Inanna in 2018. She is currently working on a fourth collection of poetry. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, with her son and two assertive, non-vanishing cats, aged 16 and 15. Visit her at elizabethgreen.ca.