Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Scent of Poplars

That's brother Al up on the boat, which served also as our backyard tent, jungle jim and parlor for tea parties.

Notice those poplars to the right in the picture? They, or rather their scent, have brought me right into the heart of many a poem. I'm sure they didn't know it at the time, but many years later, while walking alongside a row of poplars in a cemetery in France, I caught that familiar scent, and was transported back in time to the five poplars standing in a row in our backyard, along a white fence, like folded umbrellas ...

The poplars were foreigners in a neighborhood filled with maples and pines. No one else had poplars in their backyard. The neighbors said they came from Italy. I wondered how it came to be that poplars from Italy stood in our backyard.

The poplars stood like sentinels, guarding the other anomaly: my father building the boat. No one else's father was building a boat in their backyard. Should we be worried or proud? We decided to be proud, although our mother had her doubts, and I was a bit worried.

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