June 6th has some meaning in my life. There have been several significant events; however, none compare to losing my grandmothers on the same day. The universe is a strange place and both my grandma’s, who meant literally the world to me. They both lived a few blocks away and played a huge part in my upbringing, and they left this world on June 6 several years a part. They also were good friends and enjoyed going out for chicken dinners on Wednesday nights. They traveled to Hawaii together, which is where I was living when my second grandma passed. They both were incredible women. I can’t say enough about them. I won the lottery in life, in terms of grandparents. I don’t think I could have gotten better ones. The two poems I am sharing were poems I wrote after their passings respectively. They might not be my best work, but I was a blubbering mess of person for quite a while after losing them. It’s funny cause I felt so compelled to write about grief at the beginning of the week. I had not even looked at the calendar. It’s almost like my body just knows it. There’s not a day that goes by that they don’t enter my thoughts, my actions. I hold them to the highest esteem. I could be about 1% of the caring, kind hearted individual they were, I will have succeeded. To my grandma’s Rita and Laverne, I love you and although you’re not on this planet anymore, I carry you with me every single day.
Yellow Finch Winds
The winds want you,
they tell the long grass. Girls
That dance in dead snows with skirts,
Flowing easy as lazy rivers, hurt
Listening to your utter forgiveness
For life. You know now
When you wipe breath from your brow,
Little changes, but everything inside me
Hurts, even as I allow the inevitable truth,
You’ve found eternal rest to sink in.
Remember everything has a noise
Even silence. Everything has a shade
Even shadows. Every hurt has a forgiveness,
And that is often death. I feel the sting
of a permanent antiseptic applied
In an effort to keep my heart numb.
I think of the chestnuts you swept from your porch.
The yellow finches you fed
In wishes and needs. The candy pink couch
In your basement where we spent our summers
When the Midwest air had that heavy industrial oder
That never let your lungs rest.
You were stronger than the voice of God.
You taught me when it rained
The angels were bowling. I learned
From you of loss, those weeks after grandpa died.
When you shook and cried every Sunday at mass,
Demonstrating love was something I had yet to feel,
Understand, comprehend. In church,
You showed up week after week despite
The fact you told me more than once
“Heaven and hell are here on earth.”
Still, you wore commitment like the day does light.
And now I go to the window
And what once seemed simple and lovely
Feels complicated and psychological.
At night when I close my eyes,
There are finches, bowling angels, and
Great silences, intelligent and gentle.
Then there is the wind, the long grasses swaying
Letting me know they’ve parted the way
For you to walk into eternal peace. There is
No misdoing, amnesia, or mystery here.
There is only truth, which you exemplified.
Born a diamond, rock solid, hard to excavate.
The earth wants you back. I knew it would.
This is not hard for me to understand. What is,
Is the acorns continue to drop onto the sidewalk,
Patsy Cline’s voice from a radio never disappoints,
And Yellow Finches come to empty windows
And now it is just I there missing you
Staring at their yellow breasts, listening
To them quietly saying po-ta-to-chip
With a very familiar, even cadence.
I wake up in some strange room in Hawaii.
It’s after seven. I know this because
After much time here, you learn to read the sun.
I have no idea of the day, week. My alarm..
I’ve never missed it. I’ve never overslept,
Forgotten to go to work.
Slowly.. it creeps back…
The call in the middle of the night,
Shivering the whole eleven hours on the plane,
Everything I miss, but not you.
I am still alive and you are now dead.
I’m 32, every hour before this seems hurried.
Somewhere. Something. Someone.
Thin yellow curtains billow slightly
In the cradle of the Trade Winds.
I wish for laugh, your smile-
It melts me. It reminds me
Kids drop ice cream cones, and it’s ok.
Your eyes never faded of pride for me.
Even after the stroke took language from you,’
You chose to know the best sides of me.
At your house, I was allowed to be the kid
That did everything other kids did. One
Snowflake at a time, we’d cut for hours.
You never cared my eyes were crooked and
I couldn’t hold a scissors. My gave me your
Grandest bay window to hang my distorted snowflakes.
You saved your whole life for that window
And instead of decorating the way you dreamed,
You put up my crooked snowflakes.
You even brought people over and marveled at it.
You’d sit next to me in the Lazy Boy chair,
Where in the last years of your life I’d spoon feed you.
Showing your black and white photos of you and your sisters.
Every year, I’d ask you, “Grandma,
What’s your favorite part of Christmas?”
Your smile would widen, “Everyone comes to see me.”
I’d beg you to ask me, and I would say, ‘presents,’
Just to hear your deep belly laugh. I haven’t
Heard before or since you.
Before bed, you quietly prayed the rosary nightly.
Hands careful to never skip a bead. I’d rest
My head on your shoulder and practice talking to God.
After your stroke, I’d hold your prayer book.
You’d still mumble each word. Sometime slurred,
But never broken or inarticulate in what you needed to say.
It’s strange being here knowing there is nowhere
I can write to you, come find you, be at peace
In your holy presence anymore.
Now there’s just some prayer card with your picture on it,
Wrinkled and worn down from rubbing it,
Tears dropping on it.
I used to have a brown suitcase that said,
“Going to Grandma’s,’ I’d give anything
To pack that suitcase now.
Somehow, I grew up to become an expert at suitcase packing.
Everywhere I go, there’s a part of me that hopes to find someone
That even resembles you a bit. It’s never happened.
I feel like I’ll always be searching for someone
Who understands my sad snowflakes, who offers
Her shoulder to pray together, who slows me down,
Reminds me. Go slow with those you love.
Your time together is right now and nothing further guaranteed.