Spring Tonic

At twenty-one, a new Hunter College graduate,
I was living in the Village on Thompson Street,
sharing a three-room walk-up with a roommate.
Every Sunday, I’d hop a subway uptown,
heading for my grandmother’s apartment.
We’d settle in the kitchen, at the table
between two tall windows overlooking
a rear garden. There was a birch in the garden
that soared past the windows. We’d sit and sip
milky tea from her moss green cups.
Grandma would spin yarns for me—tales
from her youth—how she fled Ireland
after the Potato Famine with nothing
but the clothes on her back—or the time
she was followed around Dublin by a spurned
suitor who threatened to kidnap her.
The stories differed a bit with each telling.
That didn’t matter. I knew Grandma
was full of malarkey. Weekdays, from
nine to five, I was a management trainee
in crisply ironed business suits, digesting
facts and figures for lunch. On these Sundays,
I could kick off my shoes, climb on the wings
of Grandma’s imagination and watch buds
on the birch blossom.

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