Poems by Angela Gascoigne
Title Poem
In an Old House in Bellevue (Christmas poem December 25, 2006)

In an old house in Bellevue
Surrounded by trees,
There were rooms of enchantment
To be explored as I pleased.

First stop was the kitchen
Where my grandmother sat.
She would offer me gum
While we had a nice chat.

Then my grandfather
Would pour me a drink
Of his orange-banana juice
By the kitchen sink.

And right above the sink
I could see the next room
Where fresh laundry and quince leather
Was like a perfume.

On top of the washer
Was the food dehydrator,
Where the quince was transformed
Into leather days later.

It was so delicious,
But not as much as quince cake
Which we referred as bread
For my grandfather's sake.

Just around the corner
And past the front door,
Was a room of old dolls,
Antique toys and much more.

I remember one doll
Fashioned as Red Riding Hood.
But when I pulled up her cape
I saw the wolf in the woods.

There was a stuffed animal
Missing a button eye,
And miniature teacups
I could stack up to the sky.

One game I played
Was a long wooden board.
Each hole that was in it
Represented points that I scored.

The marble would roll down
Two long metal poles
Until it fell off
Into one of the holes.

There was a board for cribbage
Which I never understood.
But it was still entertaining
To stick the colored pegs into wood.

After leaving this room
I'd walk down the white hall
Where just past the bathroom
Was the biggest mystery of all.

The master bedroom
Where my grandparents slept
Contained many of the collections
My grandfather kept.

He had records, and diaries,
And books, and rocks.
In fact those stones alone
Could have stretched 50 blocks!

The man horded articles
And papers in files.
He had miles and miles
Of organized piles.

He kept stamps and coins
From all the places he'd been.
He collected just about everything
That wasn't a sin.

Then out to the living room
With its white ceilings so grand.
It was like I had entered
A far away land.

The carpet was green
And thick like grass.
There was a round wicker chair
And carvings of glass.

There was a portrait of Mary
Up on the wall.
And not far from that
Was a picture of a horse stall.

Every year at Christmas
We'd put up Tweety Bird
Which would spin and make noise
And was actually quite absurd.

The gifts stretched from one wall
To the opposite side.
And that was partly because
The tree was so wide.

The tree was so wide
Because it was tall.
Anut Helene always managed
To find the biggest tree of all.

There were seven stockings
That were larger than life,
Stuffed full of items
That were meant to cause strife.

Boxing nuns
And rubber dog poop,
Voodoo dolls
And recipes for slug soup.

My Uncle Bob
Enjoyed this the most.
Every year
There was someone new to roast.

I heard this tradition started
With Bob himself
When one year he decided
To give of his wealth.

And support a poor child
Who lived far, far away
In the country of Congo.
But to this day

We have yet to hear news
Of this needy Congo kid
And the saintly act
Bob supposedly did.

So to honor his good intentions
Every year we exchange
Little Congo babies,
Most of which are quite strange.

But his wife Maureen
Never lets us down.
She makes us
The best ginger cookies in town.

And every Christmas
Mrs. Hoveter would come
And bring us a tray
Of her warm sticky buns.

For dinner was smoked turkey
And Aurthers' white bread.
Between that and the side dishes
We were all well fed.

And all of this eating
Would not have been complete
Without Aunt Margret's plays
We would watch from our seat.

She enlisted the audience
To be part of the cast.
They would reenact stories
From the family's past.

Now back to the Tweety Bird
Which hung in the door way
Of the small dark den
Where I'd occasionally play.

There was a poster on the wall
Advertising an airline
That pictured the Cartano
Family of nine.

I remember some bongo drums
And a desk with more rocks.
And I was told this was the room
That hosted many stern talks.

Children that were naugty
And full of sin
Were firmly reprimanded
And sent to the den.

Returning to the great room,
Walking past the china hutch
With just one little glance
I could see so much.

The East Channel Bridge
Stood out the most
And my Aunt Helene's sail boat
Tied up to a post.

And just outside the window
In the midst of the grape vine
On a teeny tiny perch
Cats would bask in the sunshine.

My grandma had two cats;
Bieja was gentle and white.
But Mango was black
And full of spite.

I could never pet them
Before they got away.
They must have been traumatized
By children everyday.

When I would grow tired
Of playing on the main floor
I traveled downstairs
Where there were rooms to explore.

The staircase was fine
If you were 5 ft. tall.
But if you were not
You might hit your head and fall.

There was a room for storage
Full of dusty old jars.
There were board games with pizzas
Fake money and cars.

The most foreboding faces
In the entire town
Hung on those basement walls
And looked on with a frown.

They were three tribal masks
That probably came from Congo.
No doubt they cursed the family
Along time ago.

Just outside the house
Was the most amazing landscape.
It was enough to make
Martha Stewart's mouth gape.

Although she would have sided
With my Uncle Bob
When it came time
For the pruning job.

That five letter word
That started with "P"
Caused enough contention
To start World War III.

Just a few snips
Was my grandfather's opinion.
How dare anyone prune
His luscious dominion!

Rhododendrons and raspberries
And roadside Scotch Broom,
All took their turns
Being in bloom.

Two steep rocky trails
Led down to the lake,
Winding around
Like a slippery snake.

The massive stone steps
Were slick with green slime,
Which presented a challenge
When attempting to climb.

And you had to be fast
Because lurking in the trees
Were swarms of deadly
Child eating bees.

At the end of the trail
Was the tree of quince fruit,
The most valuable shrub
From leaf to root.

There was a pump-house, a fire pit,
And an 'L' shaped dock.
There were white plastic chairs
Where we'd sit and talk.

I would jump off the dock
For a nice cool swim,
Hoping the seaweed
Had been recently trimmed;

Because if it hadn't been,
It might grab my toes
And wrestle me down
To the depths below.

My mom would pay me money
To swim laps to and fro.
A nickel was a lot back then
Don't you know.

It's amazing how many memories
One house can hold.
And I've come to realize
As I grow old.

The greatest joys in life
Do not come from what you possess.
They're not found in mink coats
Or grandma's fancy black dress.

They're not found in her diamonds
Or table cloth of lace,
But they're found in my thoughts
When I picture her face.

I can still hear my grandfather
Whistling away,
The same little melody
Day after day.

And although the house
Sits alone upon a hill,
I keep my memories with me
And I always will.

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