Tuesday, January 23, 2018


In assuming I may never be a grandmother,
I cannot help but think of my own --
the Swedish one, with her black flowered dresses,
hats pinned on, and her sturdy black shoes,
the long gray hair with its silky braids,
atop her head, until she took them down to sleep,
the pale pink of her woolen underwear,
so essential in her chill Hoboken apartment,
four floors up, the smell of the stairs,
and the fractal curve of the banisters
as I looked down from the top.

The bright blue of her Maalox bottle,
and the distant sounds from the harbor we could see
when we stepped through her kitchen window
onto the roof where she hung their washed clothes out to dry.
The hourglass pot in which she brewed her coffee,
the roar of the stove when she opened the door
to throw in more slabs of wood,
the gleam in my grandfather's turquoise eyes
as he lifted a knife full of peas to his mouth,
knowing she would object.
The shelves of books by the window,
in the living room of the apartment,
and the daybed where I slept until
the rumble of the garbage trucks would wake me...

And the Southern one, with her short squat body,
her short squat face and heart, and her bitter drawl;
her eerie fascination with sex, and with cancer,
stark contrast to her garden with its pansies,
blue hydrangeas, magnolias and gardenias.
Her custard, and her ham, and the peas, always cooked til they were gray.
The hard raspberry candies with their soft centers,
kept in a glass dish on her glass topped coffee table
with its treasures on display beneath the glass.
The green swing on the porch,
my mother's doll with her fabric body,
china head and arms, and her wicker carriage...

My children have no memories like these --
I married late (the second time, when I had them)
and both their grandmothers soon had passed away.
And I'll probably be gone before their own children --
if they have them --are ever born.
I wonder if they'll miss me...

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