Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Red Oak Door

Our ancestral house had a red oak door
towering tall against cold December
winds and June afternoon rains.
Sometimes it kept out wild stray cats
that appeared mysteriously
and left empty crates of packaged
milk half spilled on hoary kitchen rugs.

But mostly, it welcomed visitors,
neighbors and the unexpected passer-by.
Even when balmy evenings rolled into
savage rainy days that rattled our roofs,
there was the occasional ring of the doorbell
with a familiar face or an unsuspecting visitor
at our Bougainvillea draped front porch.

The children usually came in clusters
scuffing along flower bedded sidewalks.
The tallest one managed to reach the bell
after several high jump attempts, waking up 
the inmates out of cozy warm beds.
But with no signs of a potential playmate,
they went dashing to the open fields nearby.

On special occasions, the families visited
traveling long hours from uptown.
At the door, the men brushed imaginary
specs off ironed pants; the women tucked in 
unruffled hair behind ears while the bell 
reverberated and faint sound of footsteps 
were heard, they cleared throats
just in time to greet the host 
with beaming smiles.

There was the occasional visit
from the affable mailman
garbed in an oversized khaki kurta
and milky white pyjamas,
with a jhola strung around his angular shoulder,
carrying the neat stacks of crème wrinkled 
envelopes grabbed by our eager hands.

changing seasons wrapped hours into years
like little glittery holiday presents;
the big old colossal door now stood
a little rickety and timeworn
yet burnished and beautiful,
like our own  lives.     

*First published in Songbook Circa, November 2011.

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