Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: Summer

Passion for Stinkin’ Plants That Will Die Anyway

84 degrees in the shade and I
drag my tooth-just-extracted self
to the garden store so all the
folks at church will see that
I am really making an effort
on the parsonage to… why
am I here? Oh, yeah, to buy plants

One purple, something pink, posy, daisy,
varietals, variegated, annuals, manually
cartsweatpushed to checkout

Then to the smoldering car
Four windows down and still
sweat pours through cleavage
pooling in my belly button

Home, quick, dig, plant, hose
A real Choo-Choo-Charlie effort
or is it “I think I can…?”
I start stripping at the door,
long line of socks, shorts,
shirt, until
(still in underwear)
I drench clenching teeth
in cold water shower.

Was it all a mirage?
No, merely stupidity

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Fireblossom at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads wanted our passions. Well, the point behind this was more like Protestant guilt to try and “homey up” our new pastoral residence, but hey, the passion is what you make of it! Amy

Hydrangeas on Block Island, 1988
Image by Joanne Bergenwall,
licensed under Wikimedia Commons

Blooms began to give way to age
as summer heat set in, bushes and
hedges of hydrangea, a veritable
fantasy of violet on the small island.

The guys were gigging there and I
was large with Riley, up early each
morning to watch blossoms adorning
the pathway to town. I walked down

to the gate and set out around the block
taking stock of purple bunches, hung
on branches like ornaments. The most
lovely stage of the hydrangea is in its

swan song: Faded to a pinkish hue as
crisp brown edges form, they look like
the silk inside of my Grandma’s purse.
Violet, you were never lovelier than

that summer, me in full childbearing
bloom, you holding on long enough
to strut your stuff and bring me peace
before the band awoke, grumbling.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Riley’s father had a gig on Block Island, just off the coast of Rhode Island. I skipped a lot of the performances, preferring to sit on a rocker on the front porch and talk to our hostess about our baby to be. We’d watch as an elbow or foot almost punched through my thin summer dress, chatting. We spoke of the bushes, and violet was the choice of everyone on her block. In Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple, the character Shug declared, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” I think she was onto something.

This was for Kim Nelson’s “violet” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.  During my meditation today, I was whisked back in time, when I was in as full a bloom as the flowers.  Peace, Amy


Growing up, we had a pool.
This guaranteed us friends
during dog days, kids diving
for pennies, singing along to
my sister’s transistor radio.

I learned to be graceful there.
Normally prone to clumsiness,
I glided like a siren on her way to
a gig tempting sailors who’d crash
their crafts on the rocks below.

Underwater, the mermaid learned
how to swim a full lap in one breath,
then two laps. But the best part was
dinner hour, when the kids got called
home and I had the pool to myself.

Dad worked hard and drank late,
so we’d eat whenever he drove in.
One afternoon, I lay face-down
on a long raft, hands grazing water
as one bothers timothy grass in the field.

No one called me in for supper.
Result? Even Black Irish, brown-eyed
girls get the occasional sunburn, but
this was a blistering, “degree” burn,
with ointments and aloe and sympathy.

As the burn dried and began to peel,
my sister Jo used her nails to scratch
a perfect heart on my back. This artwork
grossed out the kids, which was, of course,
the point.

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Karin Gustafson, hosting dverse today, wanted memories of summer. This one stuck with me for two reasons; first, my sisters took after my English father, blonde hair and blue eyes, and they burned easily, so my mother’s brown-eyed Irish heritage usually saved me from that fate. Second, the fact that my sister Jo would take so much time creating on my back made me feel special.

Also at my poetic kiddie pool, Poets United. Peace, Amy

Hey, y’all, sorry I have not posted for a couple of days. Lex presided at a wedding – lovely couple, loving family, lively friends. I was involved as a “second pair of hands” with things like, “WHERE ARE THE BOBBY PINS!!??” and offering to run to the drug store for that, some Advil… you know the drill. Rewarded with a beer on the Bridal Bus while the couple were taking pictures. Adventure for those two just beginning. (CUE THE CARPENTERS)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a hymn to back yards everywhere.


Step out our sliding back door
and step into a condo-life miracle.

A huge yard, formed by buildings
on every side, protected play space.

Little Graham next door draws
on the back stoop: smell the chalk.

(Oops! He also needs a change,
says my keen mommy’s nose.)

His Dad drills heavenly brats and
neighbor Diane drools, “I’ll take three.”

We sit in lawn chairs, share local
beers; a whiff of malt wafts on the breeze.

Freshly mown grass, green aroma
mingling with fading lilacs.

And now Jean’s baked muffins add
a gentle vanilla to the other scents.

One perfect June evening… with
our neighborhood potpourri.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Image courtesy of Triple Oaks Nursery and Herb Garden of South Jersey. Check out their page – beautiful blooms abound!

For Poetic Bloomings, to the prompt, “In the air.” Also at my poetic playground, Poets United. This new neighborhood has brought back some wonderful memories, especially the yard… it’s patrolled by every stay-at-home parent and home-office resident. We have all planted gardens to our own taste, and it’s burgeoning blooms here in Madison! Peace, Amy