In a packed Chevrolet station wagon
we rode there in one day
through Michigan small towns
to cabins clustered by a lake
with a dock and dusty store
pine woods rose up around.
Second from the water's edge,
ours had old linoleum floors,
lumpy sofa, one bathroom
kitchen bedrooms opened off.
For two weeks we got up with no clocks.
While Mom and Dad fished the cove
or read books on the front porch,
we girls swam and dove
down to the lake's weedy bottom,
then sunned on the wooden float
with Coppertone and cokes,
water drops on our warm skin
evaporating into expectant air.
Two blonde boys from Skokie drove
a motorboat we skied behind,
trying to smile like Esther Williams,
knees bent, holding tight the tow rope,
skimming the blue.
Lately I've traveled far
and never left my desk computer,
navigated roads across
the whole United States
over mountain ranges,
across great rivers and lakes
to cities with skyscrapers
and rows of houses.
Looking down like God might
I count trees and vehicles,
saved images from satellites
engineers have hung up in the sky.
With a few finger strokes I'm back
to a two-story brick house
in a western suburb of Chicago
on a street named Roosevelt
where one October night
Dad, his voice awed and low,
took us into the dark
back yard to show us Sputnik,
a winking star we strained
to grasp the mathematics of
as we watched it race across
black and infinite Space.
Ten Things About a Piano
You're playing the sonata Mozart composed when he was six.
Old music is always stored in a hinged bench.
Other people can play show tunes and sing at the same time.
Winter and Company studio upright, circa 1940, dark walnut.
You stopped taking lessons too soon.
Do you remember the name and phone number of the tuner?
You could play all your pieces better if you would practice scales.
An inside wall is the best place for it.
One time when it was moved, it broke its left leg.
Your legs can reach the pedals now.
©2008 by Beth Paulson