Monday, April 2, 2007

In Memory of My Grandma (d. 2006)

I want to post a poem to now that my Grandma actually helped me a bit with. I was having trouble describing the particular sound of the tug boat horns we always heard on the river, and went to her with advice. Later, in the hospital, I told her I thought I found the right words, but she never got to hear the whole poem. This is a poem that, on the surface, seems to be more about boats and the Ohio River. However, in reality, and on a somewhat deeper level, this is completely a poem about the world’s best Grandma, and the powerful effect she had on her grandchildren, who were blessed to have her. By the end of the poem, the sound of the river boat horns seems to be equated with Grandma’s welcome voice calling us in to her home from out playing. This poem is emotionally true. Factually, the poem is more of a combination of many, many, many wonderful events all smushed together to form one scene. The line breaks are not showing as written, so I am putting a forward slash at the end of each line as intended. The first time I read this poem publicly was the exact day in December 06 my Grandma was admitted to the emergency room. This also happened to be the day of my last Craft of Poetry class, and a public reading in the art gallery at school. I was torn up reading it then.

Sleepovers at Grandma’s House on the Ohio River

Lightning bugs lit the way for us cousins in our buttercup necklaces /
as we followed our Grandma’s welcome voice to the porch and indoors, /

where, before we could hear the stories behind the bleating of the river boat horn— /
my Grandma’s imaginary boyfriends’ echoed greetings— /

we washed off our dandelion makeup and dirt under fingernails, /
while Ivory soap smells bubbled in our noses, /

then settled into the big blue-room bed, with its blue walls and comforter, /
to play twenty-questions and giggle at ceiling tiles until we were shushed /

and drifted our way to dreams— /
times like that, it seemed summer would never end. /


Then we grew older. /

We drifted more and more apart. /

The flood forced relocation to a smaller house. /

The rising river ruined almost everything that had made our summer days. /

The carpet we had sat on cross-legged playing Atari when it rained. /

The box of toys like Evil Knievil motorcyclist and Indian brave. /


But sometimes, even though I’m away, alone in my apartment, I think I hear the welcome river boat greetings./

1 comment:

Crystalee said...

Your grandma is proud of you. :-)