It was never quite like this,

the shallow wading pool of past, its pink
mermaid-clad collapsible sides filled
with dead grapevine Mom wrestled
from the cage-wire fence & sunk
in its bathwater depths to be made more
pliant for the working. Once I buried
a burn there, dip’t surreptitiously
from a showoff jump on Old Miss Judy’s
just-rid bike, my shiny white shin in stark
relief to the gap-black teeth of her red-
haired grandson. I remember, too, the stains
of walnuts that fell like dull tennis balls
all around the pool’s pressed grass;
a quarter a bucket all Indian summer long
while Mom cut & shaped & dried
under the shade of the bitter leaves.
I keep one of those wreaths cornered
in the utility closet under winter coats,
still, dusting its thick ribbon & fluffing
up the bow after every first frost has passed.

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