The Voice Issue 29: May/June 2017 - Page 42

42

- Christian, Northfield, VT

Summer at Aunt June's

The front porch,

where Aunt June would greet us

as we tumbled out of the old Subaru

into the dry dust of her winding, country driveway.

She would be sitting in her Adirondack chair

drinking an iced tea

and wearing her pink straw hat.

It was always summer when we visited,

always that squinty, humid kind of hot

that only a popsicle and a kiddie pool could cure.

And Aunt June had both.

The kitchen,

painted the same shade of blue as Cinderella's

ball gown.

Aunt June would tell me to fetch her some

ice cubes for her tea

and I would stand in front of the freezer

with the door open,

letting the cold air roll over my scrawny frame.

There was no air conditioning in that old house.

Aunt June always said the heat kept her joints

from getting too rusty.

Eventually I'd hear her call from the porch,

"Anita, what's taking so long?"

and I'd yell back, "Coming!"

as I'd scramble to fill a glass with ice cubes.

I'd pop one in my own mouth and crunch down,

making my teeth ache,

a price I was willing to pay to briefly escape the heat.

The turret,

where we'd gather to play make-believe.

We'd pretend we were in a castle,

and the musty alcoves of the roof would fall away,

replaced with the splendor of a marble palace.

Eventually it would get too hot for the boys and they would retreat,

but I would always linger.

The turret was filled with crates of old books and photo albums,

and I would find a new volume to flip through

while I sat in the windowseat,

my cheek pressed up against the glass,

falling into fantasies and fairytales.

The rooftop deck,

where we would eat tuna sandwiches

and drink homemade lemonade.

Occasionally a breeze would bless us with momentary relief,

and we would all sigh in unison.

When we finished our lunch we would leave the adults to gossip,

and retreat to the white railing,

where we would debate the level of injury a fall would sustain.

"I bet you'd break a leg."

"I bet you'd break both legs."

"I bet you'd break both legs and your neck."

"I bet you'd die."

Eventually the adults would notice us lingering by the edge,

and call us away to safety.

We'd grumble and gripe

but I was always secretly relieved to be distanced from the precipice.

The backyard,

where we would play hide and seek among the forsythia bushes.

The grass was always long and unruly,

tickling at my calfs and smelling of freedom and carelessness.

I stained many a pair of jeans in the dirt

and sustained many a skinned knee on the gravel walkway

and even though I knew that an afternoon in the backyard

meant an evening in the bathtub

it never stopped me from finding the best hiding spots

behind the garden shed or under the wheelbarrow.

It would be dusk by the time we were called in for bed

and cries of "Five more minutes!" would ring out from our throats until we were hoarse.

Aunt June would finally convince us to concede

with the bait of fresh, ooey-gooey brownies.

We would tramp inside,

twigs in our hair and grass stains on our knees,

with the satisfaction of knowing the great plains of the backyard,

would still be there when we returned next weekened.

Somehow, next weekend always felt like an eternity.

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