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December 18th at Midnight

My father’s high school portrait (he went off to war shortly after it was taken) and his grandparent’s wedding portrait all very dusty on the mantle; the glass fruit was my mother’s. My great grandfather looks like my uncle George and my great grandmother looks like my sister Peggy. My great-grandmother Mammy died when I was nine and mostly sat in a chair when I knew her; my first recollection is of her eating soup and spilling some on her bosom scooping it up with her large spoon and eating it just like any other. She loved watching wrestling on television. The screen was very tiny back then; it is kind of interesting how the screens have become very tiny again. I am playing the guitar and because nobody is in the house but me–Wish you were here–I am actually playing and singing very well and very loudly. Outside is cold and foggy. A stink bug crawls on the wall casting its shadow. There didn’t used to be insects in the winter. Climate change? Outside along 322 the cars zip by one after the other going to and from Lancaster and Hershey and Harrisburg and all points beyond. When I was a child maybe a car passed by every half hour. And on a winter night like this near midnight there wouldn’t be any, only silence and the night. My favorite sounds were the peepers in the spring, choruses of toads and frogs making love in the smoky cold streams and the chirring of the katydids and the crickets in the summer and the autumn. You can still hear them between the passings of the cars. I would love to live long enough to see a time when there are no more wires and no more cars. I have only ever known one house and there has been so much laughter in it, God knows the making of love in every room at one time or another and tragedies, even people trying to kill each other, but I think if the house could say one thing the house would say, “I remember the parties.” “L’Chaim!” My mother would like that I said that. And I will say it again, “L’Chaim!”


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