“Gritty linoleum floors, layer over layers of tongue-and-groove flooring boards…”

Old memories of Newfoundland, like ghosts,
Linger on night pillows, enter pre-waking
Dreams, decades of wispy images, voices,
Feelings, even smells, cascading return,
Forgotten past, repressed, life-chapters,
When I was someone else then, younger,
Malleable, more naïve, trusting than now.

What memories come to sudden light? Gritty
Linoleum floors, layer over layers of tongue-
And-groove flooring boards, cold enclosed
Back porch, bathroom added to rear of
Frame house somehow. During winter, we
Hung blankets over single-pane windows,
As if hibernating during “R” months,
Wood, coal stoves, worry of frozen black-
Iron water pipes.

Kitchen was center of our family, cold-
Pounding feet, warming moments at the
Stoves, cooking and heating, not ten feet
Apart. We hung clothes on doors and
Walls, old houses before doored closets.
Cloth-covered wiring ran up and down
Walls, across ceilings to ancient-looking
Lights. O! How we plugged into plugs,
Few wall sockets, made of brittle, black
Plastic, something new, called Bakelite.

Photo: Radio Canada International archives.

We listened to shortwave radio, long-wire
In the attic, CBC Northern Service, Radio
Canada International, read books aloud.
We saved old newspapers, bound bundles,
Made good insulation against hard-winter
Cold. Yes, heavy wet snow, hip-deep to
Growing girl, December rising sun lost
Behind dense stands of spruce trees,
Pungent smoke, cut branches, warming
Fires on high-sloped pebbled beaches.

Thus are my dreamt memories of home
In sight of deep fishing bays or the “Rock,”
Salt-box houses, brightly painted fishing
Boats and outports, Northern cod, three-
Season snows, moose in highways standing,
Avalon fog thick as gauze.

Thanks for reading.

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