|Jan/Feb 2019 Poetry Special Feature|
Grandma, fourteen and just arrived from England,
survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire,
her left side—sightless and deaf—
scarred from arm to ear.
For 83 years, she was afraid of sleep—
of dreams that swallowed her night.
Grandma liked to say she could see better
than most with perfect vision,
to smell horseshit,
knit and sew, cook and bake as well
as those who slept at night.
She taught us all to cook
with gestures and incantations.
Her latkes were legend—
peppery and crisp as chips.
Grandpa often said he worshipped
the ground she walked on
and that she wasn't so bad either
He wore the grin of a happy man
with a laugh as contagious as good health.
Widowed at 90, we took her in.
My grandson, Paul,
shy and slight—
shadowed her every move.
One night, at bedtime,
they sat together in the old recliner,
swapped whispery stories,
in the hushed and darkening room,
and slept soundly 'til dawn.