LAST WALTZ

for Grandmom

 

Grandmom in Alaska

Because she believed, I did,
all those Sundays she filled me
with forbidden fruits,
a grandmother’s reward
for having persevered. Everything
tastes better with sugar,
even oranges and secrets
kept from home.

In old St. Jerome’s church,
we’d kneel for communion,
long after my parish priest
had dispensed with being
an intermediary for God,
and handed me a wafer
All that was holy
flourished in my palm.

The years sped by so fast,
time invisible as angels.
Now, though belief is less rote,
I mouth her prayers
to lift her journey
to its end. If there were candles
I would blaze a trail.

I smell her Noxzema kisses
and count pennies won
at gin rummy, and remember
how I danced on her toes
and she laughed.
“Step lively,” she’d say.
“Here’s your hat,
what’s your hurry?”

Surely, now, some light-
footed prince has freed
a card for her and swept
her away in a drift
of stars, a cascade of ‘wow’
a mystery that sets
her free.

Key words: poetry, end-of-life, vigil, grandmothers, family, grief

Power

In your absence, I burn
Every light in the house. Darkness
Swells with my old worries.
Things live there, that never see
The light of day. Monsters skulk
In every closet, gather under the bed,
Jump from behind each corner. Lights
On, I can pretend we still gather,
Our ghosts and the lives we made
Launched or failed, bright spirits of our love
In this world. I close the curtains
Against the dark woods beyond
Our living room. Even the closet
Lights are on, bathrooms and garage,
Empty places where we once rested our weary
Hearts against the weight
Of one another. If I could sail above these fears
My own bright soul would need
Nothing but itself. As it is, electricity
Pours through this night, and I wait
For the power to give.

 

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