The Sunday Poem: Gina Marie Marselle... As the Day Wore Into Itself

Sometimes the days pass slowly when you are a child. Gina Marie Marselle recalls such an afternoon with her mother. I am sure that many of the wonderful details of that time are now part of her own daughter's life. Some belong only to history...but nothing is left unnoticed.

Gina Marie Marselle is involved with the poetry slam scene, and coordinates the Open Space Visitor Center Presents “Poetry in Place” series. Ms. Marselle teaches at Cibola High School.



As the Day Wore Into Itself

We’d sit in the living room looking out-of-doors
waiting for Dad to come home.
Mom’s cigarette resting in a cut-glass
astray,
smoking itself to ash.

When I was a kid, it fascinated me. The smoke billowing up
into the late afternoon, living room air—
a fire of sorts from its amber-ash tip.

The sun always fell down a little early,
and I’d wish for it to fall right back up,
so we could go back out
spend more time in the garden
getting fingers,
nails
toes,
earth dirty.

Mom would let me pull weeds.
She’d say, ‘Gina, pull only the ones that look like this’.
And I go look real close at the ‘weed’. Study it.
Not wanting to disappoint her.
It was already wilted,
picked painfully from its roots.

Mom paid no never mind to the weed, tossing it carelessly onto a pile
of yard debris.
She’d go on
telling me the names of flowers and plants
like I was a grown-up, like I understood.
She’d show me which ones were perennials

or annuals.
Flowers were so important to mom.
She tend to them and they would grow to full bloom
for her. As the day wore into itself
Mom would direct the yard into full order.

My baby brother slept while mom and I
tended the garden. Our time.

The sun always fell down a little early,
too early. We’d have to finish final touches
go inside
away from
the warmth of the sun
to tidy up an already clean house
that somehow was always a ‘mess’.

Mom directed me sweeping, dusting, fluffing pillows.
She'd pull a brush through each of our hair.
She’d pull at my tangles, jerking my head back, bringing stinging tears to my eyes.
She’d pull a brush through my long, fine child hair, knotted from the day’s gardening.
Mom applied blush to her cheeks and pink gloss to her full lips.

Then she’d pull out her broken-bind Betty Crocker cookbook
prepare a meal from scratch,
rosemary chicken,
parsley potatoes,
and crisp sugar peas from the garden.
Bake chocolate chip cookies,
we’d sit at the table,
she’d feed her son. My baby brother.

She’d direct me in eating properly.
‘Napkin on your lap, elbows off the table.’
‘Drink your milk.’
‘Take a bite of your sugar peas,
another,
no, no take a real bite, that’s it.’
‘Gina, sit straight.’
‘Three more bites of peas, please’
‘Yes, you have to eat the rosemary chicken.’

We’d eat in the quiet.
Wait for my dad,
Wait for dad
until the sun folded into the night’s sky.


--Gina Marselle, January 2010


Poetry submissions are welcome. Email theditchrider@gmail.com. The whole Sunday Poem series is available from the front page of the DCF by clicking on The DitchRider in the left-hand sidebar. Poems early in the series are archived under "previous post" at the bottom of The DitchRider blog.

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Tags: Marselle, poetry

Comment by Ben Moffett on March 14, 2010 at 8:33am
I really love this poem. Nostalgic but not sad.re. It reminds me of my gardening days, hoeing the weeds, row by row, with my dad and mom,, on our five acre farm in San Antonio, NM. Johnson grass. Wild amaranth (we called it careless weed, or pig weed then), bind weed. I like the conversation. "Three more bites of peas." So familiar. Thanks, Gina Marie.
Comment by Gina M on March 14, 2010 at 8:47am
Thank you so much for posting my poem....I have made a few edits from when I sent this to you....I struggled with stanza 10 with broken-bind...thinking it should be broken-bound or broken binding....but I guess as I develop more into a creative writer/poet, I am more critical with each read.....It is an honor to have my poem presented here....I have to say though....the photo you picked makes me look like a wild woman....NOW you all can imagine why my mom struggled with brushing out my hair....when I was child it was much longer....

Thank you again for publishing my poem here on this page as it is a wonderful honor to be posted along with some of the best poets.....WOW, thank you.
Comment by cathyray on March 14, 2010 at 10:47am
Gina M, you belong here with the other great poetry. I still have that old cookbook, I knew immediately which one you were referring to. I can see the sun slanting in the room as my mother's ciggie burnt down. great!
Comment by Zachary Kluckman on March 14, 2010 at 11:32am
Great job Gina! Good to see you on here....I love this poem. Very familiar, reminiscent of youth and simpler times. Reminds me of my grandmother's house....and the smell of dinner cooking. There's a softness to this poem, no sharp edges....the imagery is tangible, within reach and "earth dirty"....which makes it very evocative for me....although now I'm hungry for rosemary chicken..... Well done Mrs. G!
Comment by Margaret Randall on March 14, 2010 at 3:42pm
This poem brings me right into that day and your childhood, another time, one I remember well, but we each have our own specific memories... I love the way you recreate a culture through the words and actions of the people in your life.
Comment by Merimee Moffitt on March 14, 2010 at 10:01pm
I like this poem--it's user friendly, and sad, wait for dad, wait for dad--very finely tuned up close focus on a life. Congrats on your new career as poet and Poetry in Place proprietress! good job! I like the wild pic too--very pretty.
Comment by Gina M on March 30, 2010 at 12:01am
thanks all for reading my poem...an honor....
Comment by Georgia Santa-Maria on April 15, 2010 at 1:38pm
I love the ordinariness of this, no fireworks or sirens--just the simpleness of days, and of the care in the relationship between mother and daughter, and how it's acknowledged, the empathy of the child for her mother. This is beautiful, subtle and deep--the sadness of the missing dad, and their waiting. Beautiful, Gina.
Comment by Gina M on April 16, 2010 at 11:29am
Thank you Georgia....I appreciate your comments so much..... : )

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