The woman sat idle on her old porch swing
And drank tea from a ceramic mug Elsa had
Made for her twenty years before, the
Warmth of the brew taking some of the bite
From a cold morning breeze, though she knew
It would warm up nicely today, rain or not.
Aye, it would rain by the time noon came ‘round
Didn’t need no fancy Doppler or whatever they
Was usin’ nowadays to figure that one out, she
Could smell its coming in the air and the sky had
That peculiar hazy look about it, blurry against
Tree branch silhouettes rising from her back yard.
Days like this, Elsa held sway in her thoughts like
Some pendulum in a room of light and shadow, and
The old woman gripped her mug a little tighter, Elsa’s
Mug, totally unaware of the pain in her gnarled fingers as
She did so, yellowed eyes suddenly far away, looking inward
Now as that pendulum swung a hypnotic dance of memory.
(it had been cold that morning, too, with the promise
of rain and Elsa came runnin’ up to Gramma as her
daddy pulled away, and my! but that child was a bundle
of energy sure enough, long red hair flyin’, all smiles an’
shouts, something wrapped in newspaper held out in front
of her, made it for you Gramma! All by myself at school..)
Oh it was painful to remember such things, Elsa grabbing
Her hand, leading her ‘round back to this very swing, twenty
Years ago to the day an’ no wonder it was plaguing her so, No sense denyin’ it neither, the old woman knew well enough
When Elsa had died, why else had she picked this mug from
Which to drink her morning tea, rinsing off a years worth of dust?
Why else sitting here, where Elsa had presented her the mug
With the kind of innocent aplomb that only an eight-year-old
Could perform, before running to a tree that no longer stood?
And how could anybody have known one of them climbin’
Boards had worked itself loose so soon after nailing them in…
That such a short little fall would become a lifetime of guilt?
The old woman sets her mug, Elsa’s mug, on a small table
Close by the swing, the tea is cold now so cold and she
Doesn’t like where this thought takes her as she glances
At the weathered tombstone where a tree once stood, some
Twenty years ago, best just to go inside and make sure no
Windows have been left open, though she knows otherwise.
Rain comin’, sure enough, you could smell it in the air.