Growing Up With Brothers Meant Machines–
go-carts, shortwave radios, model airplanes, then old
cars (with doors agape and missing
windows taped in plastic to keep out
rain)—and oil stains slickening the garage floor.
Meant long hours puzzling over how
things worked, in a stench of sweat
and burning solder. But sometimes the clunkers started and then
we four jumped in to drive, untagged, unlicensed,
unbuckled, orbiting the neighborhood.
Best of all were the motorcycles—there were two
that summer, when we all still lived
under one roof.
We waited till our parents slept, then wheeled
them mutely out the drive and down the block
to fire them up. I jumped on the back
of the smaller one, barefoot and helmetless for an illegal
flight. I had no fear of the pavement
shrieking past, no worry that the wind
wove bugs into my hair. I hugged my brother—in the only
way hugs were allowed—and off we rode
into the street-lit night.
My Grandmother’s Candy Jar
Sunday afternoons we ate with Grandma at her airless
house in Wesley Heights. She had a horsehair chair that
scratched right through my T-shirt, shelves of Reader’s
Digest Condensed Books and an ancient telephone
through which she talked and talked, her youth still trilling
in certain syllables. These were the nervous years beyond
her husband’s wartime death but before her youngest daughter
died of cancer—decades of reading abridged
stories in that prickly chair and more talking, mostly
to herself. But when we came she polished up her finest
things and made a meal. I don’t remember what we
ate—only my father’s soft baritone, my mother’s sharp
response, my brothers struggling to stay in their seats—
and a candy jar she passed around to signal we were
done. When we raised the silver lid, there was a mound
of shiny rectangles, a little heap of pleasures, from which
we were to choose just one, though I tried my best
to pilfer more. Just one, to unwrap with as much restraint
as I could manage, mouthing the smooth surface before
I bit into chocolate—semi-sweet—balling up the tinfoil
to roll inside my pocket like a small, extinguished star.
Meredith Davies Hadaway is the author of three poetry collections: Fishing Secrets of the Dead, The River is a Reason, and At The Narrows (winner of the 2015 Delmarva Book Prize for Creative Writing) from Word Poetry. She has received fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council and multiple Pushcart nominations. She holds an MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and was, for ten years, poetry editor for The Summerset Review. Hadaway is a former Rose O’Neill Writer-in-Residence at Washington College, where she taught ecopoetry and served as chief marketing officer for 30 years.