Christmas Time in the City


I just ran up to Guerrero to drop a package in the mailbox and on my return trip across the street I was absolutely overwhelmed by the smell of the eucalyptus forest above your house. How did that scent get down here, to the Mission, from all the way up there? Can it float better in this crisp, winter air? In any case, the wave that hit me brought me to you. To your warm, transparent-skinned hands, adorned in clunky gold rings that fit over your knuckles but then spun around your thin fingers. I was a kid again, remembering the smell of his shop in the basement, ever-meticulous, full of tools and treasures we knew not to touch. Of your garage, somehow warm with the smell of old wood and oil and the nearby forest, but also dark and cold and strangely windowless, even at the back where there could have been a twinkling view of downtown. To the laundry shoot, a relic of time, thundering with our bouncy balls and clogged with secret messages that never did make it all the way though. And to the holidays there, with Louis Armstrong, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and my brothers, my parents, my cousins, and you. Hugging us and loving us and letting us run wild through the alleys.

Walking back down the block back to school I felt you in me, your 5' 10'' frame—so startling tall in your era—alive in my lanky legs. We're all you, all four of us Smith women.