Sounds and Ripples
by Kathleen Wilson

My mother, beautiful in mid-life
stared at the ripples
as she washed the millionth dish
far from her childhood home.
Her five American children made sounds,
calling with New York accents from another room.

Her father held her hand and walked
along the stoney pier in the early morning.
She loved the walks with him before school.
They watched the ripples widen towards Suez.

Now, beautiful in her eighties she has a picture
on her shelf in her Southern California room alone.
(She hears the palm trees rustle
in the night outside her window.)
Her Maltese father,
employed by the British Consulate in Port Said,
sits silently on a camel
and stares across the sand,
pyramids in the background.

He died suddenly which sent her
as a teenage girl with her mother to the States.
Then, on her voyage, she stared down
into the water, memories growing larger, and fading.
Now she looks down into her tea,
watches a drop, making ripples.

In my kitchen is a picture of her mother
beautiful in mid-life,
elegantly seated at an table,
on an outdoor veranda near Heliopolis,
with silver tea service, poised in mid-sip.

My grandmother lived with us when I was a child.
I remember her as old when we listened together
to the sounds of crickets from her window in the night.
(For her they called up ripples in the Nile.)
She would tell me in an excited tone,
I can still hear her with shivers,
"the croakadillas" are calling!

Go to some photos from Mom's Port Said Childhood, with family history researh links