Pacific Grove 1940

Summertime, the muted voices
Of my mother and grandmother
Laughing in the kitchen.

Smells of coffee, strong and black

There’s nothing outside my window
The fog curls in silver ripples
Hiding the feverish pinks and reds
Of Hollyhocks

I pull the covers higher
My mother calls and I hurry to dress

My grandmother’s old house
smelling of mildew, pancakes
Sleep and love

The fog lifts, here’s the sun!
where is my pail, where is my shovel?
My favorite pail, jolly elephants
At the circus. No shoes today!

I run down the sloping street
To the beach, the sun warming
the old cracked squares of cement,
Bits of mica glinting.

Tiny grains of sharp sand
bite into my bare city feet;
That’s good, I’m here!

I pass the ancient houses
One by one, a small old lady
Works in each garden
Where are all the old men?

See my Martha Washington’s?
Look at the fuschias this year!
Does your gramma want a “slip”?

Magenta blossoms, fiery red
Blushing white, unopened blossom
Bulbs dangling – small fingers
Make them pop!

 The whistle blows at the Canneries
It’s the swing shift!
Lunch buckets empty, weary brown
Faces heading home
Smells of the sea on their shoes

I run down the pink stone stairs
An ice-cream sandwich held carefully
in one hand, pail and shovel in the other

Don’t go near the cave!
You don’t know who’s in there!
But look!
Here’s a baby abalone shell,
And a whole clam; into the pail!

Here are my friends and we
Cover each other with the warm
Gritty granite sand.

The cold water racing circles
Around our ankles
The water turquoise and clear,
Tiny crabs investigate our toes

Do you have a dime?
We can share a hot dog!
Wish we had fifty cents
We could ride the Glass Bottomed Boat
Betcha we could see a big abalone!

Tiny fingers of fog signal
Time to go home!
Back up the hill, bucket of treasures
Swinging along,
Sunburned and happy
My grandma and the Lone Ranger waiting

December, 2000

Karen calls this writing form a Prome. “It’s not a poem. It’s not prose. It’s inbetween.”
Karen on

Lovers’ Point Beach, Pacific Grove, with her pail, 1942

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