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Lunch Time, Summer 1970
Marianne Szlyk


Three years past someone else’s summer
of love, smoky sunlight squeezes
past metal blinds. I am dancing
to no music but dust motes that twirl.

At 12:30 sharp, my grandmother is making
deviled ham sandwiches on Roman Meal,
not my mother’s dry Hollywood Dark.
Here the radio is silent. The TV is off.

Humming, Grandma spoons out piccalilli
relish and Hellman’s Mayonnaise
into the small bowl of deviled ham.
As I twirl, she tells me stories

about my mother as a little girl
who went to dancing school
and was a butterfly at the spring recital.
I sit at our toy table and look out

the window at the lilac bush
that, in summer, hides rusted hulks
to imagine butterflies dancing,
becoming girls in this city.

This poem first appeared in Setu.
Used here with permission.


Marianne Szlyk teaches English and Reading at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. As a child, she spent summers at Nature Training School near Worcester, Massachusetts and at her grandmother's house in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. As an adult, she still enjoys watching birds and turtles. Marianne’s work has appeared in a variety of journals and she is the author of two chapbooks and two full-length collections.





Post New Comment:
Thank you so very much, everyone! I'm glad to see that my poem set in Fitchburg has resonated with everyone.
Posted 05/17/2024 09:55 AM
A lovely story of generations!
Posted 05/12/2024 05:33 PM
A lovely poem for Mother's Day! And yes, I remember Roman Meal breadit was "fancy" bread compared to everyday Wonder Bread!
Posted 05/12/2024 05:22 PM
Lori Levy:
Great details. Love the ending.
Posted 05/12/2024 05:14 PM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
I'm a fan of Marianne Szlyk because she has an uncanny ability to take us back to past memories of grandmothers and mothers where we felt safe and loved. Favorite image is: "As I twirl, she tells me stories about my mother as a little girl who went to dancing school and was a butterfly at the spring recital."
Posted 05/12/2024 10:19 AM
I love that this poem speaks of three generations of women, wonderful!
Posted 05/12/2024 07:41 AM

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