by Ann B. Day
Every day I drive by her barn-red farmhouse
where she had lived since the turn of the century.
No electricity; at night an oil lamp
glowed in her kitchen window.
Against the wall of her linoleum-floored kitchen
her water, piped from a spring,
ran a steady stream into an iron sink,
a friendly sound.
When I visited her,
I drew in the smell of wood smoke
from her Home Comfort cook stove,
steam from the iron kettle.
The back door opened to the woodshed
with its well-grooved chopping block
and the privy.
From her afghan-backed rocker
by the kitchen window,
Mary watched for neighbors
and the mailman who’d stop in
on his daily route to bring her
a letter or the weekly IGA flyer.
She greeted them all with an ever-present smile.
She didn’t go out often, but never missed
town meeting on the first Tuesday in March.
On her ninetieth birthday we drove her
to Warren’s Fourth of July parade
in our horse-pulled buggy.
Mary died the following year.
Today I notice an air conditioner in the window
where the oil lamp used to be.
Mary McLaughlin in Fayston,
Vermont (early 1980s)
Photograph by Ann B. Day