Saturday, April 3, 2021

My Old Aunts Play Canasta in a Snow Storm by Marjorie Saiser

 Today's poem reminds me of Saturday nights at my mom's.  

I first played Canasta with my mom and dad with good friends sitting around our kitchen table in Cambridge.

Over the years, it evolved into Donald and I playing with my mom on Saturday nights at her place in Blowing Rock.

There were always drinks and snacks.

And laughter.

Lots of laughter.

I ride along in the backseat; the aunt who can drive

picks up each sister at her door, keeps the Pontiac

chugging in each driveway while one or the other

slips into her overshoes and steps out,

closing her door with a click, the wind

lifting the fringe of her white cotton scarf

as she comes down the sidewalk, still pulling on her

new polyester Christmas-stocking mittens.

We have no business to be out in such a storm,

she says, no business at all.

The wind takes her voice and swirls it

like snow across the windshield.

We’re on to the next house, the next aunt,

the heater blowing to beat the band.

At the last house, we play canasta,

the deuces wild even as they were in childhood,

the wind blowing through the empty apple trees,

through the shadows of bumper crops. The cards

line up under my aunts’ finger bones; eights and nines and aces

straggle and fall into place like well-behaved children.

My aunts shuffle and meld; they laugh like banshees,

as they did in that other kitchen in the 30’s that

day Margaret draped a dishtowel over her face

to answer the door. We put her up to it, they say,

laughing; we pushed her. The man—whoever he was—

drove off in a huff while they laughed ’til they hiccupped,

laughing still—I’m one of the girls laughing him down the sidewalk

and into his car, we’re rascals sure as farmyard dogs,

we’re wild card-players; the snow thickens,

the coffee boils and perks, the wind is a red trey

because, as one or the other says,

We are getting up there in the years; we’ll

have to quit sometime. But today,


deal, sister, deal.


“My Old Aunts Played Canasta in a Snowstorm” by Marjorie Saiser from Lost in Seward County. © University of Nebraska Press, 2001. 


Gram said...

I never get tired of this one...

Kathy Reel said...

What a wonderful poem!