• novel new hampshire •

• novel new hampshire •
To have had weekend vacation trips
as a kid, to me, then, as now,
was a goodness.
Still, it remains in me, what I recall:
beautiful dreams, betimes,
still visit me
of novel New Hampshire.
Mom and Dad
wouldn’t even wake us up,
but bundle us all together
like floppy dropsy dead-weights
like little sheaves,
clad in pinks and blues and greens,
like little lost lambs,
bobsy-haired kittens
and crew-cutted puppy dogs,
we kids, pajama-clad
with footies on, and all:
we little languid lumps of sleepiness,
all cool fingers and toes,
all soft cheeks and runny noses,
all scab-clad foreheads
and knees and elbows –
bundled all together
into the old Pontiac,
still sleeping,
sans safety belts,
together with blankets,
and cased pillows,
and favorite stuffed rabbits
and Barbie dolls.

And so, upon waking,
we would find ourselves, happily,
driving up and down,
and all around
the curvy county roads,
of scenic,
historic,
New England! –
surrounded to the full,
to our sleep-crispy
crusty young eyes,
charmed and astonished –
literally transported,
into another world,
of misty mosses, mystic forests,
and farms.
At times, I still go there
in my mind:
then, and now, once again,
on those curvy back roads, I go,
in and around that place
of fond memories,
I ride, mentally,
then I —

Imagine ancient
lichen-mottled stone walls
and rustic fences and gates,
sun-dappled pastures
and farm roads rising and veering
to the left or right,
past a venerable old maple,
then out of sight,
speculation leading
to centenarian clay-red barns,
silos and egg-shell-white,
shale-shingle-roofed farmhouses with red doors facing,
old hunt’n dogs lazing on, or under, paint-poor porches,
International Harvester
trucks and tractors,
ignition keys hanging
in plain sight,
and rust-edged farm equipment scattered in a random manner,
just pleasing to the eye,
as desultory conversation
is to the ear; yonder,
a tire-swing calls silently
for one to remove one’s
shoes and socks
and to “swing under our branches, friend”.

I have been down some of those very roads,
smelled the smoke
of third-and-fourth-generation oaken-mantled stone-warmed hospitality,
eaten bacon and eggs
cooked on cast-iron stoves,
toasted to fresh-squeezed orange juice
from Demi-tumblers, gotten as dividends
from boxes of Duz detergent
from Promotionals, on commercials featuring a mega-hairdooed,
then barely-twenty, Dolly Parton, (“Holy smokes!”
Gramps had declared,
and on a Sunday night,
“I gotta get my hands on a couple o’ them things!”)
on the now defunct
round-screened black-and-white TV, with the rabbit-ears,
with double-flags
of crimped-on aluminum-foil ,
a tribute to the Great Martian Envoy,
who’s arrival was long-awaited,
and sorely missed:
bundles of Montgomery-Ward
and Sears & Roebuck
catalogues,
depicting wool-clad girls and boys, rubber-booted and scarved,
merrily zooming
down snow-covered hills,
the originals
lovingly rendered,
done in vivid watercolors,
by none other
than one of Norman Rockwell’s lesser-known contemporaries, whose endangered
dreamed-of immortality
relies solely
on these yellowing depictions:
apple-cheeked smiles
and peals of silent laughter
as apropos as anything
of a guy whose contemporaries called him ‘Sketchy’
all of his working life:
haunting, taunting,
these string-tied tributes
languish in the shadow of the old TV, for that day, that dizzying,
long-overdue day when
the Martians may finally land.

(There is, no doubt, friend,
a story there,
just as there are stories
in every crawl-space, attic
and root-cellar,
under every dog-ensconced porch, and at the bottom of every well.
Of course, some stories
are too precious to tell,
so if you ask,
all you will likely get
is a sad, cryptic smile
shared between long-married hosts, a furtive glance
at that corner of the room
to check for dust-bunnies,
and an invitation to play Scrabble or Go-Fish,
the perfume of ‘No harm done ‘,
filling the vacuum
of the pervading air.)

Memory-Tupperware is everywhere.
Oh, yes,
And love.
~ Tim Burchfield
12/25/11

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