This month, WVFC asked some of our Poetry Friday regulars to join us in our monthlong February celebration of love and libido in women over 40. And we begin with a gift of previously-unpublished poems by Millicent Borges Accardi, author of the new collection Injuring Eternity. She writes about the first of the poems below:
My grandparents lived in a converted garage in the back of the house where I grew up, and, so I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, a feisty tomboy who wore dungarees, whom I renamed Margo. She and I would watch shows and read books that my parents did not approve of. She went on gambling jaunts to Vegas and Roller Derby games. When I went to the circus one time and returned home to tell Margo about the acrobats who balanced on beach balls, she immediately got two for us to try. Of course, she was in her seventies and ended up slipping and breaking her hip, but that incident alone shows that she was “a go-er” My mom always said the sassiness skipped a generation because she–my mom–was the quiet one. Into her senior years, my grandmother rode a three-wheel bicycle and built things in the backyard, like fences, or she always seemed to have a construction project going (painting the house or redoing the roof). In the 1920s she and her sister Sally escaped New Bedford as dare-devil flappers and worked as telephone operators in the big city of New York. My grandfather had to coax her home to get married. She said she never wanted children, but, in the era she lived, folks got married and had babies. I think she compromised by only having one! Then, despite my own mother’s wishes for a large family, she ended up with one also. So I ended up the only child of an only child. My grandmother was my first hero. She never had gender roles or pretensions of any kind. If you were kind, she was cool with you. I brought home a punk rocker once and she looked him in the eye and liked him immediately. She was the most non-judgmental person I ever knew.
So is Accardi. If any WVFC readers happen to be in Washington, D.C. with Associated Writers Programs this week, you might want to check out her panel on “Poets Wrestling with Research,” at 1:30 today in the Marriott Wardman’s Coolidge Room. Let us know what you learned from her!
Sexing it Slow with Tom Jones and Margo
I was eight, going on seventy.
We ripped our way through Mickey Spillane
With helpless women tied to chairs
Blindfolded on the covers of paperbacks.
Then the T-Birds, roller-ball, those chicks knew
How to elbow and rough it up. We ate coffee
ice cream out of cantaloupes, then lazed about
On the love seat. Tom Jones was up next, he
Even sounds like he is sweaty when he sings.
My grandmother gasped when he tossed
Over the handkerchief to a girl
In the audience. Last, we went for Lawrence Welk,
A quiet ending to our torrid girls blight out.
All summer, we played it that way. Margo sipping
High balls and fingering the mini Pall Malls
She got downtown for free downtown at Buffums.
Sexing it slow
Is easy in the shadows
Of the LBC in the 70’s. It was where I learned
I Make Soup from the Leftover Turkey Carcass
My husband stacks the bones
From the bird he got last minute
At Ralphs because no one this year
Had a turkey under 25 pounds.
He carves the white meat
And the dark and hands me the brittle
Bones, leathered with remaining fat
And meat, full of poultry marrow
Just wanting to get out. I fill
The spaghetti pot half-full
Of water and break up
The bones to fit the vessel, adding
Brown, wrinkled onion
Skins, onions, celery and pink lady
Apples from inside the cavity,
Chopping them up as I add
To the mixture, I find left over
Lettuce and collard greens
In a Tupperware and throw
Those in too, then halves of sweet
Potatoes and the gooey ends
Of bright orange yams,
Their stringy goodness adding color
To the pot. Then, I bring everything
To a hard, strong rolling boil
For an hour, turning the fire
Low, waiting for hours, while
Middle age, our time together,
The house. All re-energived
By this second thanksgiving.