Sixteen: Kennebec

P.B. Bradford

Her arms are at right angles, mid-incantation,
next to torches kissing birches with light over the pine needle
down at this house without a lawn in Gardencrest.
9 Sylvan Way, marked with 
a ship painted by “P.B. Bradford”, smelling
of pine, turpentine and paint.
The smell of art. The aroma of invention.
P.B. was always a mystic to me,
conjuring art with her palms lined with black pastel
from shading her portraits, the turquoise of her 
wrists sounding castanets as she
fingered the chords for her ’cello,
shaking her hands to add the trace of vibrato.
Like the quiet shake in her voice, Katherine Hepburn by way
of “Bert & I”, as she told me that,
“I’ll jump down your throat and teeter
on your windpipe!”
if I continued being a shit.
Children may think of such threats as empty.
But I believed her. I believe all mystics.

I think of the last time I heard that voice.
My mother prepared me.
She may not remember you. Such are the vicissitudes
of Alzheimer’s.
I feared watching a powerful
intellect grown dull, denied the power of memory,
but she called me by name, her face
opening sunshine when she said, “I know
that voice!”
I asked her for a village, and she gave it to me.
She mentioned they were primitive, she
wasn’t very proud of them, as if that were the point.
How could you not be amazed at that which you conjure from nothing?
Where is the arrogance for having power over time?
Gone with the Alzheimer’s, I suppose.
But I have her Manchester. 
The little wooden houses of my homewtown she made for Christmas.
The used cars of Chas B. Hippler, the bread of Upper Crust
Bakery, the verdant pulse of Hopkin’s Greenhouse,
And Daggett’s. Iconic Manchester Dagget’s,
already faded into the past, gone to ground, just
like P. B. herself.

The ship by P.B. Bradford was replaced at the house with no lawn
on Sylvan Way in Gardencrest with a new one reading “For Sale” after
we put her in the ground. 
The once outdoor porch sealed off and secured 
with a realtor lock box. I will never see the inside again.
But I have her Manchester. 
She held out her arms and conjured a reality, only to have a disease 
take her reality away. Such is the tragic nature of creation.
She gave me a world, and just as mass must always be conserved,
that is exactly what the world took from her.
Save for these little wooden houses which
decorate my mantle each Christmas. And in my mind’s eye,
Patricia Bragdon Bradford, her arms raised above.
Inventing the world.