Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.

Brooklyn’s backyard arms

Brooklyn’s backyard arms~ Nancy Barber

If Brooklyn brownstones could speak,
their facades would only smile.
Lighted windows would wink shut
and they’d whisper nothing in your ears
but the creak of carpeted stairs in thick runner-red
and the crack of parquet-laid floors muffled by threadbare rugs.

If Brooklyn brownstones could breathe,
they’d inhale authentic Italian aromas
and exhale garlic.
Richly spiced tongues would speak dialects
drenched in red wine,
and laughter would gasp between forks dripping with olive oil.

If Brooklyn brownstones could see,
their eyes would be in the back of their heads
where clotheslines link families
with crisscrossing twine.
From each window, an arm, extending yarns of wisdom,
secured by clothespins meticulously marking milestones of life.

Baby’s bleached socks
and daddy’s sweat-stained blue shirts
smell the same sun-dried clean.
A gray array of mama’s laced bras billowing between
a teen-aged girl’s home-sewn dress
and an empty space for pants once worn
by a runaway son.
Grandma’s pleated apron
spattered with generations of grease,
spans the clothesline the way it spans her hips;
using three clips and flapping surrender.

If Brooklyn brownstones could cry,
their tears would shower backyard gardens –
carefully tended spots with cracked clay pots
sprouting seeds blown plot to plot.
Wading pools would fill with salt water
as widows crack heat swollen windows,
reel in a sun-drenched life-line
and hang out their hand-washed nightgowns alone.

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