That which the Realtor cannot Itemize I stood on the bed, staring out the window at the Brandenburg Ruins. The radiator clanged, and I put my cold feet against the warm metal as I turned the radio dials, searching for music between the whirring static. In the room upstairs I’d sit on black leather chairs that often made farting noises when I shifted positions, and the beige seat cushions would occasionally tumble down onto the green carpet. I once put the fuzzy orange pillow from the leather couch on my head like a troll’s hair. I tasted a sip of bitter champagne as a sleepy child awakened by friendly laughter. I remember the smell of ladies’ hair treatments and men’s cologne, and the piles of gray hairs on the floor by the salon chair as I scooted past customers in waiting to go downstairs for breakfast. I remember Opa pinching my cheeks, calling me his sweetheart. I remember dining on pickled herring, brötchen, qüark, muesli, and leberwürst, eating Oma’s cheese cake with mandarin oranges, and drinking hot tea with saccharin in the kitchen. I dropped toy parachutes from the stairs, and used the alabaster ashtrays as a ramp for the toy skateboarders that had hatched from chocolate eggs. I reclined on the fringed rug in the living room, watching television in a language that I would slowly come to understand. Once I walked barefoot on that same rug and got a toothpick stuck in my foot. I fell down the basement stairs, bruising my nose—twice! I recall going to the basement to retrieve tubs of ice cream from the freezer as würst dangled nearby like looped garland. I remember how the butcher sold meat whose slices smiled. I once wanted to open up an ice cream shop after fixing family sundaes, so I made an imaginary restaurant out of a cardboard box, complete with a menu, and stationed it on the landing between flights of stairs. Oma was a customer. When the train station was closed, we walked on the tracks, picked up small white, snail shells from the black cobblestone streets. We crossed the tracks to go walking down the farm roads, passing by yellow fields, greeting sleeve-eating cows, and being shocked by the electric fences that guarded them. I remember traveling under the Wommen Viaduct, gazing at its big, red brick arches. I remember long walks in the forest and hiking up mountains to explore castles and ruins. I remember the first time we walked the brand new footbridge to Lauchröden for ice cream after reunification. The train station, too, reopened. Once it poured rain when we walked from the train station after a ride, and we were greeted by a rainbow that welcomed us home. I remember how tiny that one car garage is for a big black Audi, pulling open the dungeon-like door and latching a big black hook. I once threw up Oma’s cherry pie in the back seat of the car that often serenaded its passengers with polka and had no air conditioning. I remember sorting bottles by color for recycling, returning cases of empty mineral water bottles for reuse, saving bath water and using it to flush the toilets, unplugging the television during thunderstorms, and the giant green barrel of rainwater that we used to water the garden. At the playground I made mud sculptures with the water pump and sand, and as I slid down the slide I lost one shoe that landed in a patch of four leaf clovers, some of which we plucked and pressed into books for safe keeping. I read free comic books published by the bank, and drew cartoons with chalk all over the front sidewalk. I remember the driving schools and hair salons that rented space downstairs. I remember eating fresh cherries from the trees across the street. I recall marveling that the house beside us was built in the 1800s. The grey granite tile on the front staircase was cold as I sat down on the stairs, watching Frau Kaiser working in her garden. I danced in the streets as they gushed with flood waters, retrieving floating hub caps lost by passing cars. I remember wandering the gravel sidewalks in the cemetery, filling large green watering cans, and pitching flowers into the compost. Maybe on their own feather pillows, orange clay roof tiles, skylights that open to the heavens, and specific brands of nougat are inherently meaningless, because you may just see a house, but I remember a home. Although I know it is not true for all my relations, I only have happy memories of this location, due to several childhood summer vacations to what was our home within a different nation. I hope the next family that resides there experiences such a warm sensation. If those walls at number 39 could describe ninety-four years, they’d say, “It started with a train station and lasted for generations.”
This is a throwback poem from a previously published book. I’ll be posting throwbacks every Wednesday.
Resting on my Laurels
Resting on my Laurels contains poetry written, performed, and published during D.L. Lang's tenure as the 2nd Poet Laureate of Vallejo in addition to other never before seen poems.