My grandmother worked hard, even taking in boarders to raise 4 children, then she raised me and then my aunt brought home an Indian girl for her to raise. When she had finished, she died. She had finished being what she was supposed to be and doing what she was supposed to do. I wrote this poem about her . . . .
“Who were you?”I suddenly asked, a foolish question surely, For I knew she was grandmother, mother, wife, wore many hats securely.
“But who were you?”I asked again, my heart was filled with pain.
I did not know; I had never asked.The question came again.
I placed my hand upon her grave, searching . . . . . . . .
Fresh baked bread, still warm . . . hot water cornbread, muscadine
pie, I haven’t had them since.Mother Macree, Hawaiian music and
Wayne King’s band, so sentimental . . . rough hands so gentle . . . am I
You told me how, when you were young, you placed a clothespin on
your nose because it was too flat! Your father fought in the Civil War;
he never recovered from that . . . spectacles always lost on top of your
head, and I threaded your needles . . . am I getting close?
Mail-order clothes, Montgomery Wards . . . corsets that were stiff . . .
Ben Hur, the Bible every night, the 23rdgave you a lift . . . am I getting close? Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?”. . .
you gave it to me once; you loved me.You wrote poems, lots of
them, one when I was born. I have tried to keep them all.
Your bedtime stories, all make-believe, a beautiful princess, a handsome prince—right off the top of your head. We held hands across the beds . . . am I getting close?
A warm iron wrapped in my bed, when I came in from a date, and a flashlight beckoning up the hall when I stayed on the porch too late . . . am I getting close?
You dreamed of places far away not daring to believe that you might get there some day.I went; I took you with me.
That is who you are. You are me.
We are the past, the present, the what will come to be.
You are who you are, and I am who I am, and we are one
with all who were and will be. That is you and me.