YYC POP: Poetic Portraits of Poetry, a Sheri-D Wilson Laureate Project

Poetic Portrait

– Karen Gummo

Bend and stretch, reach for the stars,
In search of our beloved.
She remembers early childhood days in Bridgeland/Riverside.
Her father found her on bended knee,
Staring at Jesus across the street.
She did not belong there, though liked to stare, ever aware
Of common links between church, temple and synagogue.

“Will you come out to play?” I ask.
She has always been a player; ready to engage, to explore, to delight.
Lost her mother when she was eight,
Her labourer father could not keep her.
Then a solo journey by steel rail to Toronto.
Did she want to?
Want to? Had to!
Her elder sister would keep her safe.

Returning to Calgary at thirteen, she found the one she had fallen in love with early.
On their way to Jewish kindergarten, he had climbed into the car, smelling of freshly baked bread. He still carried a sweet scent.

They married under a flowering crab, so young, so soon.
No time or space for many guests or a wedding dress.

Years later, they thought it time to tie one on,
Oh my, the guest list looked too long.

Compromising, she dressed herself in Sally Ann bridal wear,
complete with crowned – veil and pearly shoes – oh,
He in top hat and tuxedo.

Together every June, they doled out their hearts.
Sweet cookies offered in Princes’ Island Park.
They travelled on foot around the town,
in top down convertibles waving,
She more enthused than he.

Still celebrating love, still holding onto that razzle dazzle.

Our mayor and our people on the street; little ones in the world of daycare and television, all those lofty and lowly, have been recipients of her wisdom and her love.

He is gone now. She has the story. She could tell you more.

Do bee ready to listen and don’t bee bashful about asking.

Here comes Jupiter,
There goes Mars.

I see Robert and Molly, Peter and Polly and Erikur. And there is Room for more!

Karen Gummo

Ever driven to help create connections between people, Karen Gummo has been a story listener, maker and raconteur for more than 30 years. With her Scandinavian/Canadian Heritage at the centre of her identity, she has travelled across Canada and as far away as Iceland to offer her most powerful sagas.