a fear

Monday  December 9

I forgot to leave a bounce back message on my email;  I’ll do that in a minute.   A few days in western Nevada,  Carson City, where my sister and her family live.  A perfect time away from campus — lots of snow, lots of small mountains, lots of sun and ice.   My neice Terri lives here too, with her husband and two small children.   So I am picking another of her poems while she and her husband crank up for a work day in a high school here.   It’s about being an observant child perceiving in her grandmother signs of frailty and diminishment all woven with beauty.

I might miss some days if it gets lazy enough.  Back in Motown Friday

Have a good week.


john sj


A Fear That Would Like to be Acknowledged


Green tomatoes cluster on vines

small and swollen as grandmother’s knuckles

knotted from clothespins and crosswords

curled into the shape of too much use.


The plants reach tall as my chin when

raised. From the same height, she surveys

ninety-four years of harvest and history:

the farms, lightening rods on every roof,

the brother who lay broken

beneath the tree he had climbed to

find apples for her.


On shadowed branches, bunches of yellow

star-petals spread, slight as her thinning arms,

bright like her gaze for

grandchildren and guardian angels.


Stems surge straight upward, lithe

with water, where her bones have brittled

and bent.  But grandma has stubbornness on her side,

and her shrunken hunch encloses a life dense

with memories of fight.


As autumn leans in, family gathers

to her age, listening carefully, testing her words

for ripeness or rot.  From fear, her youngest grandchild

plucks and dries each sound, recording her stories

for the winter when blooms

become sparse.

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