Coming home from the orchard, a car burnt out just south of exit 15. Vermont plates, fire engine, ambulance, police cars. Trees turning red around us. Coming up on October, it'll be here soon, then November and December. Months get cold and colder.
On the second floor in the tv room we sat and ate oranges before bed. Marnie would peel them and split them between us. Elizabeth in her red and white pajamas. Robert in his velour tiger suit. A hug and a bug and a love and a kiss before bed. Us in the big house with our grandparents, her home alone in an empty room that would be mine. Crying.
When she was little she would climb into the bread oven beside the fireplace in the tv room and close the door. As he was emptying the house she climbed in again, in with old postcards and lost scrabble letters, the snakeskin from Peter's move west. The room almost empty but for the pictures on the mantle and my grandfather's grandfather's cradle. Pictures cut out and glued to a board, kids in turtlenecks. Judy smiling.