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New Years Eve at Mill Street


~~Baked beans in the pot simmering with salt pork, hot dogs browning in a small amount of butter, brown bread wrapped in aluminum foil nested by the bean pot warming from the oven baking two very large pans of macaroni and cheese, all slowly drifting filling the house with the scent of a familiar night. The matriarch, still re-arranging Christmas decorations as the children and family drop in, is shuffled off with hugs and greetings. They shed coats for plates, salt and pepper, bread and butter, and toast the cusp of a seasons’ joy and the beginning of a new year.~~

 

The morning dishes, put away washed and towel dried

by the grand children, who, one by one drifted in last night.

Grandpa pegs out last, losing his second cribbage game

to a thirteen-year-old; “smart young fella with numbers”.

Smiling, the boy gets up and pushes his chair up against the table

with a soft kick, wishes his senior “better luck next year

 if he can hold on and survive that long,”

 patting the deck of cards unknowingly cryptic.

 

More family arrives with homemade dishes and table ornaments

some placed gifts, for those relatives unseen on Christmas,

under the small well-lit tree, that grandpa boasts

“was negotiated down to ten dollars by grandma.”

New born, wrapped in the arms of entering parents,

begs to be held, cooing for first salutations,

especially those who live “very” far,

but, whose love, promising the child,

will always live nearby.

 

No need for gifts, they all arrived.

 

Rocking chair creaking,

child asleep,

grandmother humming.

Grandfather, after meeting with the family

waits his turn.

(Having lost his job last week

with his confidence “hat in hand”,

understanding his limited options

and where his life now stands).

 

Looking around the house, he cracks a smile

remembering his prime, rocking his last child;

singing quietly with the innocence

 of purity in the comfort of his lullaby.

 

The mill is officially closing at the end of this month.

 

He picks up the child from sleeping slipping arms

and starts to hum softly.

The mill whistle shrieks’ a long, long, blast

telling him that the fourth shift ghosts were punching in.

It was eleven-thirty, December 31, the last shift.

His severance check went into savings this Christmas;

his skills outsourced, betrayed by an economy

 for a life diminished.

 

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