Birthday Poem For My Grandmother – Sharon Olds


I stood on the porch tonight–which way do we
face to talk to the dead? I thought of the
new rose, and went out over the
grey lawn–things really
have no color at night. I descended
the stones, as if to the place where one
speaks to the dead. The rose stood
half-uncurled, glowing white in the
black air. Later I remembered
your birthday. You would have been ninety and getting
roses from me. Are the dead there
if we do not speak to them? When I came to see you
you were always sitting quietly in the chair,
not knitting, because of the arthritis,
not reading, because of the blindness,
just sitting. I never knew how you
did it or what you were thinking. Now I
sometimes sit on the porch, waiting,
trying to feel you there like the colors of the
flowers in the dark.


Sharon Olds.




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