Tender and Warm

She is tender and warm. Arrives on a morning fresh Without light knock or bell Like a whiff of tea and toast Upon a hot summer breeze. She is tender and warm. We perch on auburn-dabbed cliffs, shoulder against shoulder Study each other sideways. Relax, with breath abated An odd-looking pair, yet Somehow finely matched. She is tender and warm. Our bodies crumple in a fit of laughs. With our heels, we plough small Rocks along and off the dusty edge. Languish in and read saucy prose Savour a bookish kind of bliss. She is tender and warm. Inside, I…

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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…

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Pears – For Kathleen B. Nestor by Mary D’Angelo

  O, how you filled my baby days with sticky sweet-tasting pureed pears, strained through the family sieve. The yellow-skinned fruit with the spherical base and tapered top that you would skin with your sharp knife.   How we laughed when the cat played with the peel, pawing it through the air, while I sat strapped in the high-chair, my mouth shaped in the smallest O, my eyes wider than the years between us.   My mouth a hangar, the spoon of pears a plane that zipped though the air, each swallow followed by a laugh.   How our memories…

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The Weakness – Toi Derricotte

That time my grandmother dragged me through the perfume aisles at Saks, she held me up by my arm, hissing, “Stand up,” through clenched teeth, her eyes bright as a dog’s cornered in the light. She said it over and over, as if she were Jesus, and I were dead. She had been solid as a tree, a fur around her neck, a light-skinned matron whose car was parked, who walked on swirling marble and passed through brass openings — in 1 9 4 5. There was not even a black elevator operator at Saks. The saleswoman had brought velvet…

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Heirloom Hocked – Sheryl L. Nelms

  I always gathered spring greens with Gram   down by Mission Creek   we would climb those steep banks picking dock dandelion lamb’s quarter sheep sorrel poke weed and nettles   using knowledge handed down from mother to daughter from England and Ireland   now with Gram dead and a mother who got too sophisticated become uncertain can’t quite remember   how many times do I boil the poke and was it the leaves or the berries?   Sheryl L. Nelms.

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The Buck – Susanna Rich

  When I was ten, Grandmother told me to get her stuffed when she died like the buck head by the door catching webs of evil in his antlers.   She was to be seated in the living room on the sofa (or chair, our choice), facing the piano where I would play Brahms, Liszt and Chopin.   Her eyes were to be open (maybe a little touch of glass, for sparkle) and looking upwards (slightly to the right) like St. Theresa or Sebastian pierced with arrows,   her hands–demurely covered in white lace fingerless gloves– propped holding the dome…

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The Sound of My Name – Dily Morris

Over and over I call her back to me– her flowered bathrobe with pink trim around the collar glasses a little crooked hair wispy white. Scuffing blue terrycloth slippers she turns toward me, grasping the counter edge for balance, and speaks my name with more love than anyone ever squeezed into one word. Over and over I listen to the sound of my name– the memory of her, speaking my name.   Dily Morris

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One Death – Geraldine Connolly

When my grandmother was dying in her soft bed in the corner of my aunt’s farmhouse kitchen, we all sat with her, even the children   staring at the white, shut face, masked in a rapture of its own while all the noisy racket of death filled the air, lungs letting go,   blood about to rise in a purple wash, the pot of bones knocking, in a fury to stay behind, stay with us. Or perhaps the soul was rattling   its grip, a last hold on life, giving the body one final slap, she shuddered and trembled so,…

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For She Is A Tree Of Life – Marge Piercy

In the cramped living room of my childhood between sagging rough-skinned sofa that made me itch and swaybacked chair surrounded by ashtrays where my father read every word of the paper shrouded in blue smoke, coughed rusty phlegm and muttering doom, the rug was a factory oriental and the pattern called tree of life.   My mother explained as we plucked a chicken tree of life: I was enthralled and Hannah my grandmother hummed for me the phrase from liturgy: Eytz khayim hee l’makhazikim bo v’kol nitee-voteh-ho shalom: for she is a tree of life to all who hold her…

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Letter to Grandma – Kiran A. Thakare

Leaving you There in the jaw of cruel niyati thousands of miles away I came here to strengthen my beliefs and to return to fight your war my war at home.   Now three years have passed you wrote me “I am anxious to see you come home soon” I lied to you, saying “Aattya I can’t come home now I have some last moments’ work to do.” I hide from you Yes Aattya! I am trying to make some money to buy you a gift.   The thought of my return rejoices me how proud you will be to…

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