Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Poem: "After School on Ordinary Days"

As school begins again in New Jersey, here is a poem by Maria Gillan about her own after school hours during the school year.

Paterson School #15 (now #11)


After School on Ordinary Days

After school on ordinary days we listened
to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger
as we gathered around the tabletop radio
that was always kept on the china cabinet
built into the wall in that tenement kitchen,
a china cabinet that held no china, except
thick and white and utilitarian,
cups and saucers, poor people's cups
from the 5 &1 0 cent store.
My mother was always home
from Ferraro's coat factory
by the time we walked in the door
after school on ordinary days,
and she'd give us milk with Bosco in it
and cookies she'd made that weekend.
The three of us would crowd around the radio,
listening to the voices that brought a wider world
into our Paterson apartment. Later
we'd have supper at the kitchen table,
the house loud with our arguments
and laughter. After supper on ordinary
days, our homework finished, we’d play
Monopoly or gin rummy, the kitchen
warmed by the huge coal stove, the wind
outside rattling the old loose windows,
we inside, tucked in, warm and together,
on ordinary days that we didn't know
until we looked back across a distance
of forty years would glow and shimmer
in memory's flickering light.


"After School on Ordinary Days" from Light-Gathering Poems edited by Liz Rosenberg





Maria Mazziotti Gillan's most recent books are the poetry and photography collection, Paterson Light and Shadow  and the poetry collection, What Blooms in Winter . Her collection of poems along with some of her paintings is The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets . Maria's official website is MariaGillan.com.