Grandma stood on the back porch dispensing advice.
“Don’t meddle with the pups,” I heard her say.
“Anyone who meddles after being warned,
Will have hell to pay!”
I learned my lesson early and then,
I had to learn it all over again.
Our family had moved from Oklahoma
Just two months earlier and were settling in,
But it was San Joaquin Valley hot,
And my younger brother and I decided to go for a swim.
Grandma was watching us close,
As we started walking beside the road.
“Watch out for the woman next door!”
Obediently we moved to the asphalt,
Bare feet on the hot pavement.
Our feet were frying, but neither was crying.
We heard a loud thumping and froze,
Craning our necks and looking strange, I suppose.
The old woman stood on her porch,
Thumping the butt of her shotgun,
In a steady rhythm to get our attention.
“Stay off my property, you damn Okies!” she screamed.
I don’t know if she would have shot or not.
We kept walking, no talking,
Afraid to ask questions.
I never knew if anyone made it clear,
But from time to time the old woman would appear,
And watch as badminton, croquet,
And other outdoor games were played.
We never retrieved anything that fell on her yard.
We didn’t meddle because she was on guard.
We did offer cookies, candy, and cake,
But she always shook her head and would not partake.
Choosing to stay behind closed curtains.
June 20, 2017