New Orleans Honeysuckle: Gramma's Backyard

image courtesy of lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu

Honeysuckle vines spill over the fence, falling like a fountain, cascades of bright green.
The white flowers in my grandmother's backyard look like tiny, delicate bells
I tenderly bring the clear drop of nectar to my lips, tasting its sweetness
The sweetness of childhood, innocence.

Pumping my legs on Gramma's wooden swing, gripping its thick ropes
Hanging from the old, wise oak tree with branches stretching to the sky
I look up at him in wonder while I swing
Watching my own feet as they propel me higher and higher
My hair swings back to slap my face each time, a quick sting like a bee.

I'm wearing white socks folded down once with my brown sandals
I can see the light brown hair on my legs, the scar on my right knee
From when I fell off my bike the year before.

this was not taken on that day, but you can see my sandals with socks
my beautiful mom, & my younger brother, "Markie"

My mom does headstands on the old blanket in the middle of the yard, making us laugh.
She is thin, beautiful, talented, full of fun and light. Her feet are bare.
I can't stand on my head. But she can do everything.
And her feet are much prettier than mine.

I don't take off my shoes after I swing--
The St. Augustine grass is rough and crunchy and makes my ankles itch.

Can I make myself new again?
Can I start over, a slate wiped clean?
Innocent like that day in the backyard.
It's time for a swing.


Denise said...

Such soothing, beautiful words, Erin. Really enjoyed this post. (And since I lived in the south for awhile, I know just how scratchy that grass can be.)

From Tracie said...

This brings back so many memories of my childhood. My grandparents had honeysuckle growing over their fence and one time my cousin and I ate and ate it until we were both feeling sick. Followed by bike rides and sneaking around the neighborhood trying to figure out why the neighbor had built four garages.

Also...St. Augustine is my least favorite grass.

I love the imagery here, and the thought of your mom standing on her head and the laughter and freedom in this moment.

Elaine A. said...

Okay, so you know that I'm a sucker for photographs (obviously) so I'm having hard time figuring out what I love more, that photo (oh how I adore that photo) or your beautiful words. Let's just say they go together brilliantly.

Have fun swinging... ;)

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

I have great memories of my childhood backyard- which my parents still live in the same house they bought before I was born- and same with my grandmothers back yard where she illegally kept chickens-

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Lovely! Brought me back to my own childhood. Scars, swings, grandma's and believing my mom was the most beautiful woman who could do anything.

singedwingangel said...

Despite a million reasons to hate honeysuckle I still love their aroma on a hot summer day. I remember pulling those little stems out for that minute taste of sugary sweetness and I would love to have it growing here as well. Beautiful as always.. but if we wipe the slate clean would we be who we are now?? Would it be worth it?? I don't know if I could handle anything different then who I am now

Dee said...

Girl...there is nothing like the smell of honeysuckle while strolling through N'awlins! Love it! Such beautiful words!!

Victoria KP said...

This is lovely. Ellen Gilchrist has a character in some of her stories named Nora Jane. This makes me think of Nora Jane's Grandmother's house in New Orleans.

Everything I know about N.O. is from Southern writers :-).

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Honeysuckle is one of my favorite wild scents. We used to break off the pistons and lick the ends - they had a sweet nectar on them. Beautiful imagery Erin :-)

Anita said...

What else can I say? The others who commented before me have said it all. :)

Beautiful composed words, childhood memories, ahhhh...


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