Notes From a Childhood of Mine

By Robert B. 

Sober several years, I still struggled with pain and childhood trauma. Prior to recovery, I buried it to the point of ignoring my childhood. These poems helped me appreciate the good parts of my childhood and of me that I left behind in the hills and hollers of eastern Tennessee. I feel as though I am now able to revisit who I was then as a way to be compassionate for who I am now. These were written in large part to ‘let be’ rather than ‘let go’.


As a child I feared ghosts
For the stories I was told
Made them an other to drea
But now most of the ghosts
That visit me from time to time
Are quite welcome most anytime


Fireflies dancing in the dark
Men with initials for names
Like MH, WC, JR and other dyads
Sang and played guitar on a porch
Women sang harmonies
Children joined wth voices
High and sometimes strained
The Old Rugged Cross,
In the Sweet By and By
And Are You Washed In The Blood
A chorus of crickets and cicada
Filled the lull between songs
While we drank sweet tea
And lemonade in S & H green stamp glasses
Poured from glass gallon jars
While freeze-your-brain-hand-cranked
Ice cream with across the Georgia line
Peaches filled Wedding Crystal bowls
Memories linger in my mind of a time and place
When Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians
Were all I knew in a universe that
Felt big enough on summer nights in June
On nights such as these


A little farmhouse in a holler
With fewer rooms than people
An outhouse that still worked
And was occasionally used
Well after plumbing moved indoors
Only an electric fence marked
Where the yard ended
And pasture began
A gravel driveway that connected
To a gravel road that swirled dust in July
A place I called home in a once-upon-a-time


The little crick, a tiny little braided stream
Of a riffle or two or three, little falls
That now gurgle and fall only when it rains
This little river was mine once-upon-a-time
As I sit here, early morn,
Eight hundred miles north,
Like so many days before dawn
I visit that little place
That quiet little stream
That held me in place then
And calls me home now
Someone said in their
Quiet once-upon-a-time,
“All my rivers call me home” 


Frying chicken that popped and spattered
In an electric frying pan with a golden patina
Of grease from chickens in our yard
That once had names as they clucked about
Clucking, scratching and laying eggs
Now a Sunday dinner (the noon meal down there)
Started late because the preacher went on again
Maybe because he got too many amens
In the middle part of a sermon I forget
Now I eat my chicken without bone or skin
In a stir fry or a bake or grill with seasonings exotic
And eat lunch rather than dinner at noon (up here)
But I remember, I do, and now with a smile
For the boy I was then and the man that I am now
We’ve made our peace with each other
The good, the bad, and the in-between

Print Friendly, PDF & Email