Tree-lined, crack concrete, heat emanating from black asphalt, my world. Punchy with West Indian dialects', mangos, codfish cakes, peas & rice and calypso melodies. Grandma's front parlor opens with pocket doors. The scent of Murphy's wood oil shines the banisters. We play stoop ball; jump Double Dutch and I ride my red Schwinn down to Mr. Edgehil's tree boundary.
On Jefferson Avenue, everyone is family. Grandpa has a chicken coop and peach tree outback. His slender rawboned six foot-2-inch frame, a vibrant opposition to grandmas condensed five feet. She directs on Wednesdays, with chicken feet soup and Bible study. At seven, I've already memorized the 66 books in the Bible and can recite from memory several verses. Uncle "C" is a dentist, his office is 5-blocks away. Daddy buries the dead and mommy is expecting number three. Crissy is my best friend. She lives next door with six other siblings. Howdy-Doody and the Lone Ranger are my hero's.
Our summers are complete, with trips to Coney Island, the beach, the sand, the boardwalk and Nathan's hot dogs. But what made our day were the rides. My parents were fearless and always rode on the parachute. It was big, it was high, taller than the apartment buildings, it was beyond me. No kids allowed. Afterward, daddy rode with my brother and me on the bumper cars and mommy joined us on the big Ferris wheel. We collected shells and chased the salty currents. Sandy with a belly full of hot dogs, candied apples and corn on the cob, we drove home with mommy and daddy holding hands in the front seat, me and my brother laid out in the back.
I didn’t know that Roy Rogers and John Wayne massacred Tonto and that The Micky Mouse Club didn’t allow little black girls or that my father and uncle could not eat at Woolworths. The greening of childhood lost to autumn and no one plays stoop ball anymore.
JM Kirton: “I earned an MFA from Goddard College. My poems are published in several anthologies, recently won 2nd place winner DreamQuest Writing Contest and the Baker Veterans Writing Scholarship, 2018 from Longleaf Writers Conference. Published a chapbook with Finishing Line Press, 2020, Letters To My Father, I've participates in workshops & retreats Women Reading Aloud, Women Who Write & International Women’s Writing Guild. I served 14 yrs with US Army and reside with my spouse in Pennsylvania. Currently, I work for Pennsylvania Dept of Education as a Compliance Monitor. Besides writing, I enjoy touring the country on my motorcycle.”