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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 127-129

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My Young Aunts Have Lunch with Cary Grant, and: Capture the Flag, and: Flood

My Young Aunts Have Lunch with Cary Grant

Looking exactly as he always looks,
except for the open-necked shirt,
Grant pauses in mid-spoonful
of iced fruit cocktail in silver dish
to ask Priscilla a question.
Her beautiful profile looks exactly,
or almost, the same today.
The year is 1947. She is twenty,
wears a gardenia in her dark hair.
The businessman beside her,
with the natty breastpocket handkerchief,
has probably arranged all this.
A client of my grandfather?
Behind them, at duller tables,
everyone's watching the photographer,
or the back of the movie star's head.
Anne Marie, my younger aunt, disappears
at the photograph's edge. That's all right.
In about three days she'll have her own
Western adventure: getting clawed
on the arm when she offers a sandwich
to a grizzly in Yellowstone Park. [End Page 127]

Capture the Flag

I don't remember the game
ever ending. Just the grey morning
the day camp met in the barn,
chose up teams, and we became scouts,
spies, generals, foot soldiers.
Don't remember either side
keeping that rag of red calico,
just leisurely hours of shouts,
hand signals, dashes
across tarry beach roads
and the odd safety I felt
being alone for a few minutes,
not shy for a change
or scared, as a newcomer, just
crouched on damp pine needles
at my hidden post,
breathing hard, listening. [End Page 128]


On the morning of New Year's Eve I walked halfway up Winter Street in Boston before I noticed the flood from a burst water main that was pouring down the street from the corner of Park and Tremont. I'd just been to the new Immigration Museum on Milk Street, which I hadn't liked much, because wherever your feet step in the main hall it sets off a chattering in fake Irish or fake-a Italian from a dummy sitting on a steamer trunk, or beside a birdcage. A woman's voice at the back of the hall told over and over how her ancestors were brought here in chains, in the hold of a ship. But her voice crowded in with all of the other voices, so you couldn't really grasp what she was saying. Which was a problem, I decided, as I walked through the gray-brown waters that ran down Winter Street and up over the curb. All kinds of people: shoppers, teenagers, street vendors, store clerks at opened doors, were wondering at the water. But I was disliking, also, that three-screen, multimedia film they showed, with corny Ben Franklin pushing up his spectacles and acting as guide. When I left through the main hall I'd set off all the voices again, so I hurried outside, where I heard sirens but paid no attention, until here I am on Winter Street, sloshing through strange, rising waters – to the edge of my boots, to my ankles, then higher. The full flood water, of which Winter Street was only a tributary, was hurtling down Tremont past the Common. Up ahead I saw fire engines, police cars, people gathered to watch. Everyone seemed kind of on holiday, or beginning the New Year already. The subway was shut down. We couldn't go much of anywhere else. So I watched a while, with the crowd.
Susan Donnelly is the author of three chapbooks and two collections of poetry; the most recent is Transit (Iris P). Her poems appear in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and Bellevue Literary Review.



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