The Attic of My Childhood
by Helen Emma Maring
Oh, the wonders of that attic,
How I loved to climb its stair
Made of steps just like a ladder
And a trap door waiting there!
Through fan-shapen windows, streaming,
Came the golden shafts of sun,
Through the fairy curtains gleaming,
That the tireless spiders spun.
There, a distaff, wheel and treadle,
Lay beneath the sloping roof,
None there were who knew its uses—
Gone, the maker of the woof.
There, too, hung a war-time weapon—
Grandpa’s bayonet, so grim.
He had whipped the Rebel army—
General Grant a-helping him.
Oh, the treasures of that attic
Hanging from its rafters bare—
Coats of velvet, silken dresses,
Beaded bags, and wreaths of hair.
Hats and bonnets, shoes and slippers,
Used for masquerades a lot,
Plant jars and unhandled dippers
Underneath each leaky spot.
Shawls and scarfs and knitted mittens,
Colors of the Orient;
Dolls and doylies, sawdust kittens,
Oh, the money that was spent!
Strings of buttons, by the thousands,
Still no making of a pair;
Margaret sought them from the neighbors
When she wore beribboned hair.
Dainty bits of china, broken,
And a precious statue cracked,
All within their tissue wrappings,
Tied by loving hands—intact.
Winter apples, there for keeping,
Spread about upon the floor,
Big pound-sweets and golden russets,
But I never left a core.
Piles of butternuts there drying
Till their satin coats of green
Turned a sombre brown, all shrunken,
And the jagged shells were seen.
Whalebone ribs from old umbrellas,
And I smoked that acrid stuff,
Till my stomach in rebellion
Warned me—not another puff.
Hoopskirts, with and without bustles,
Linen dusters, carpet rags,
Quilting frames and curtain stretchers,
Magazines and traveling bags.
Paper sacks of downy feathers
Waiting there to fill a tick,
Foot-stools and some other comforts
Only used when folks were sick.
And within a trunk so aged
That its sides had turned to gray,
Were the tear-stained precious treasures
Of the ones who’d passed away—
Stockings made for brother Tommy,
Dresses that dear Nannie wore,
Dainty bits of broidered muslin—
Grandma’s needle-work of yore.
Ah! Each mortal has an attic
Where he stores the broken past—
Shattered hopes, and hours of gladness,
Loves that cling until the last.
Childhood plays within its shadow,
Manhood lingers in its gloom,
But Old Age lives midst the splendors,
There, in Memory’s Attic Room.