Aunt Norma is the tiniest silver spoon dipping into my little brother’s ear to fish out a golden bead.
Aunt Norma is a crockpot of warm wax and strings for dipping candles.
Aunt Norma is peppermint wheels and cinnamon candies, bowls of chocolate chips, gumdrops, and a dozen different kinds of sweets. She is home-baked gingerbread roof and walls, angled expertly for gap-free joining. She’s a plastic baggie of royal icing with the corner snipped for mortaring.
She is a portable camping kitchen with a double gas stove for pancakes and scrambled or fried eggs in the morning. She’s the Dutch ovens laid over with smoldering coals, potatoes and chicken and 7-Up in one, peach cobbler bubbling in the other.
She is the plastic pockets sewn with her seven children’s names, slung over car headrests, filled with mazes, math facts, road trip games.
She is the number seven. Seven days of creation. Seven children created. A number whole and, though odd, smooth and even.
Aunt Norma is helping Mom, after Mom’s break down, to find an apartment. She is a new key, an empty room, no diapers to change. Not mine, or my baby brother’s. A new beginning.
Aunt Norma is the Milky Way spread across a dark summer sky. She is the spark-crackle campfire and the pioneer story and the John Denver song in three-part harmony like sunshine warming us right through.
Dayna Patterson is the author of Titania in Yellow (Porkbelly Press, 2019) and If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared recently in AGNI, Passages North, and POETRY, among others. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Psaltery & Lyre and a co-editor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. daynapatterson.com