Jigsaw Puzzles

Inspired by Barb Elder for the Open Write prompt at Ethical ELA today: Finding Yourself Again: A Memory Poem.

I was six, old enough,
according to the box,
for the 100-piece puzzles
my nine-year-old sister liked to put together.
She could even handle 250-pieces puzzles.
Shudder. I hated those puzzles.

We were homesick at the farm,
left for an extra week in the summer
while my mom went back home
with older siblings
and younger brother.

We were left to have fun–
climb hay bales,
follow feral kittens,
hold baby lambs,
collect peacock feathers
and drink all the Cokes we wanted,
pulling the glass bottles out
and popping the caps off,
just like we were never allowed
to do at the gas station.
This magical machine was
in my own uncle’s garage,
and it didn’t need coins
to operate it.
The farm was a wonder–
yet my sister would
still cry herself
to sleep every night,
bringing me into her sadness.

My aunt tried her best
to entertain us. She
wanted us to enjoy our time.
My sister found joy in
putting together puzzles during the day.
Not me. They were too hard,
so my aunt said she would
take us to the store and
get me a puzzle I liked.

I remember asking her,
“Do you think they have
ones that aren’t JIGSAW puzzles?”

When we went to Woolworth’s,
there were lots of puzzles in boxes,
and then I saw what I was hoping for–
my dream puzzle.
It had a photo of a kitten
sitting up in a basket
with a pink ribbon
around its neck.
It was 24 big pieces
of paperboard cutouts
that fit neatly in a tray,
puzzles like we had at school.
Not jigsaw puzzles,
which I guess I assumed came
in boxes with small pieces,
rather than indicating
the way they were cut.

My homesickness began
to subside that day,
as this simple act of kindness by
my usually prickly aunt
convinced me of her care.

2 thoughts on “Jigsaw Puzzles

  1. How beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Brought back all the memories of loving summer camp, yet being desperately homesick the first year, when I was eight, and there for eight weeks. My counselor read us DAVID COPPERFIELD each night—and it soothed me to sleep each night.

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