Surrender on Orchard Street

South of Hester
near the synagogue on Eldridge
I walk the geography
my grandparents lived.

The face of thirty-six Orchard
boasts bay windows now--
and air conditioners--
but the fire escapes, unyielding iron,
are still there.
Did my grandmother sitting out on hot nights
look down on all the others
trying to catch a breath in the streets
Did she give up on her baby
because there was no air there
or did she give up on herself
stifled, silently screaming

Somewhere I hear a baby cry.

In the summer of nineteen-eleven
at thirty-six Orchard
my mother must have cried, too.
In those crowded rooms
many might have answered
but not, I guess, her mother.

--CGR
Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry
Volume V, August 2007

In the Telling


New Hampshire has taken our beach,
loveliest on the lake,
named it Ellacoya,
and summoned travelers from afar
in RVs and campers

Orange life guard stands
have replaced white cottages
of our childhood.
No one sleeps
in the front room of the Skipper
only inches from the edge of the water.
No one runs from the Lowell to the Bonnie
View
to find a summer companion.
No one plays card games
on the screened porch of the Innisfree
or pulls up a canoe just in time for dinner.

Now buoys mark areas for swimming
boats may not gentle into shore,
parking costs money,
and the gates close at dusk.
These newcomers
ah, they have restrooms and grills
and a sheltered place for picnics
but the beach tells them no stories
about the Indian princess
whose name it wears
or about you and me
whose footprints are long gone.

--CGR
The 2008 Poets' Guide to New Hampshire
Poetry Society of New Hampshire