Poetry Friday: "After School on Ordinary Days"

Poetry Friday is hosted by  Amy at The Poem Farm


When I come home from school these days, the house is empty save for our dog Sophie.  And, now that it is beginning to get dark so early, the house looks extra lonely – not a light glows in any window to welcome me back home.  I was really thinking about this this evening in particular, and remembering how it used to be when my kids were kids, and the house would come alive again at 3 o’clock, when they would come home from school.  For the next few hours, the house would be filled with noise and activity and there would always be lights on in every room long before it was dark.  So, this Poetry Friday, I’d like to share this wonderful poem, by New Jersey’s own Maria Mazziotti Gillan, which captures those memories so well:

After School on Ordinary Days

After school on ordinary days we listened
to The Shadow and The Lone Ranger
as we gathered around the tabletop radio
that was always kept on the china cabinet
built into the wall in that tenement kitchen,
a china cabinet that held no china, except
thick and white and utilitarian,
cups and saucers, poor people’s cups
from the 5 & 10 cents store.
My mother was always home
from Ferraro’s Coat factory
by the time we walked in the door
after school on ordinary days,
and she’d give us milk with Bosco in it
and cookies she’d made that weekend.
The three of us would crowd around the radio,
listening to the voices that brought a wider world
into our Paterson apartment. Later

we’d have supper at the kitchen table,
the house loud with our arguments
and laughter. After supper on ordinary
days, our homework finished, we’d play
monopoly or gin rummy, the kitchen
warmed by the huge coal stove, the wind
outside rattling the loose old windows,
we inside, tucked in, warm and together,
on ordinary days that we didn’t know
until we looked back across a distance
of forty years would glow and shimmer
in memory’s flickering light.

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10 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: "After School on Ordinary Days"

  1. Once again your poem touched my heart as our home is empty after school. With Thanksgiving just in the rear view mirror, I am still adjusting to the quiet sounds.

  2. GAH! I've been hit by a wave of nostalgia for a time I haven't lived yet. That is just beautiful, and your description of your own home so bittersweet. Sigh. This will remind me to embrace the ordinary days.

  3. Tara, Great poem, It is very nostalgic. Thank you for sharing this one with us. I wasn't familiar with Gillian and so that is providing a fun adventure too. Thank you for the link on the author.

  4. Hi, Tara. Maria was one of my first poetry teachers. I love her work and my husband's family has deep roots in Paterson and Hawthorne, which Maria often writes about. "Ordinary Days" is a great poem prompt, too.

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