Patricia Hemminger

Old Town Ghazal

When I was four I walked with my mother once
a week past the chestnut trees to the old part of town.

We strolled by fields hand in hand, where mares grazed, their names
etched on brass plaques nailed to the gates in the old part of town.

A worn stone step on the pavement’s edge marked the stagecoach
stop, where horses’ rumps once ran with sweat, in the old part of town.

My mother sang in the twelfth-century church, echoed the long-gone
monks clothed in cloaks and lamb’s wool hoods in the old part of town.

We stopped at my aunt’s thatched roof house. The sisters planted berry
bushes in the mud, wore wellington boots as they dug in the old part of town.

My grandmother rested in bed, white hair loose like the wool she used
to spin; her face pressed against the pillows in the old part of town.

Mother dusted the walnut dresser, scrubbed the sink and black iron
stove. I wandered down the lane into the garden in the old part of town.

Do you remember, Patricia, the velvet petals, black and pink,
how tall the hollyhocks, how sweet the plums in the old part of town?

Patricia Hemminger is a science and environmental writer and editor.
Her work has appeared in E – The Environmental Magazine, Environmental
Health Perspectives and the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation,
among others. She is associate editor of Pollution A-Z published by
MacMillan and her poems have been published in Parabola magazine and
About Place Journal. She is currently a student in the Drew University
MFA Poetry Program.