Visit 150 150 Melissa Gardner

Lititz, Pennsylvania


Grandma holds my hand
as we walk down Broad Street
past the Wilbur Chocolate Factory.

The air is heavy with chocolate.
I want to linger, stop, and smell,
but Grandma keeps her pace.
I scramble to catch up,
scuffing my Buster Browns
on the sidewalk.

We turn onto Main, toward the
efficiency apartment building
where her sister, Peg, lives
on the fourth floor, the top floor.

The building is old, settled,
content in its quiet existence.
There are no elevators.
I hold onto the age-smoothed
wooden banister and follow
Grandma up the stairs.

Grandma and Aunt Peg sit
on the couch, drink coffee,
talk, listen to Liberace.

A few yards away,
at the dining room table
I study Aunt Peg’s things:
a witch’s tea cup,
a Chinaman’s soup spoon,
a bowl of plastic fruit.
I squish-pinch a red grape.
The pear is hard, unyielding.

There is a basket of breads.
Round breads with
tic-tac-toes slashed into the tops.
Braided breads with poppy seeds,
sesame seeds, preserved in
hard, shiny shells.

Aunt Peg explains the breads
are shellacked so they will
not mold.
I supposed shellacked
meant “shiny.”

Aunt Peg gives me a handful
of chow mein noodles on a napkin
and a cup of 7-Up.
I must hold the cup with two hands
so I don’t spill.
The brown squiggles
crunch between my teeth.

When I am finished
I may come into the living room
sit on the floor
beside the couch
stare at the empty album cover.

Liberace has big hair,
a big smile, and a white
sequined tuxedo.
He sits at a white piano
with a candelabra,
looks back at me.

Melissa Gardner

Melissa Gardner received her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Seattle Pacific University. She is currently working on a collection of re-visioned fairy tales and a novel. Originally from Pennsylvania, she now lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, three cats, a Corgi, and two domesticated rats.

All posts by Melissa Gardner