The sun lurks past coldly,
an estranged friend
on the opposite sidewalk
avoiding eye contact
behind a turned-up collar of silhouetted buildings.
He hangs in other hemispheres these days.
I must be last season’s affair,
if he thinks of me at all.
The day opens her doors only briefly,
pulling in her awning
as schools let out,
flipping her sign to “closed”
as the shadows grow long on the sidewalk,
slipping onto the bus before rush hour.
I pass her grated storefront
on my way to and from work,
wondering if she’s gone out of business.
The papers pile on my desk,
layers moldering together,
settling into impenetrable strata,
I should have raked them into manageable heaps
and burned them back when they first fell there.
I cannot begin to make sense of them.
They are past their deadlines
waiting as mulch for the crocuses.
James J. Kempster, 2000
Christmas of 1989, my first after having moved to New York City, would have been fairly lonely had my then brand-new-beau Bob not invited me to his home in Beaver Falls outside of Pittsburgh PA to celebrate the holidays with his family, or should I say at “Bubba’s.” That’s what his family called his mother. Bob’s father’s side of the family was Serbian, and even though his mother is a lean, wise-cracking, back-woods Kentucky woman–someone who’s real name of Katherine or “Kitty” would have suited her better–nevertheless, as soon as her first grandchild was born, she was given the nickname “Bubba,” a Serbian term of endearment for grandmothers.
Now Bob’s family is one of the wildest, most chaotic groups of people that this little son of a lockstep German woman has ever spent the holidays with, but that first Christmas at Bubba’s swirls in my memory as the wildest. Continue reading “my first christmas dinner at bubba’s”