Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2008, vol 6 no 1


Growing Up
Margaret Hehman-Smith


One of my favorite things to do as a child was to baby-sit for the Greenbergs. Their neat little boy of seven was easy to sit for. And that wasn't the best part. The Greenbergs owned a drug store and they let me choose the following: my favorite sundae—butterscotch; my favorite comic books, such as Prince Valiant, to read while they were out for the evening; and to top it all off, I was paid fifty cents! Mr. Greenberg came to be an important person in my life, more than I would have ever guessed.

Days ticked by. I was in junior high and doing well. My older brother starred on the basketball team. My older sister had a job and a steady boyfriend. My mother was a hair stylist and rode the trolley into the city every day. We lived in an apartment above a bakery. The cooking aromas were delightful, especially on the day they made pies.

One snowy afternoon in November, I came home from school and detected a different odor when I opened the front door. It smelled like gas from the stove. I threw my books down and ran up the stairs. There was my sister, lying on the kitchen floor! I panicked and ran downstairs to the baker who could not understand what I was saying. I ran up the street to the drugstore and blurted out the words as fast as I could to Mr. Greenberg. He came immediately, leaped up the stairs, turned off the stove and opened the windows. He stood my sister up and carried her down the back stairs. He placed her in his van and we drove to the hospital in time.

afternoon pause
school books
in the snow


Margaret Hehman-Smith is a professional artist. Over 40 paintings, drawings, and original prints may be seen on her web site: She earned a BFA, 1973, and an MFA, 1975, from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. She writes articles, short stories and poetry. A novella, Mysteries of the Savannah, has just been published and is available on

Hehman-Smith lives in Hollydale, a suburb of Los Angeles. The den in her small house is a computer center. The garage was converted into a studio so that she wouldn't have to go through her old routine of traveling to a loft in downtown LA.