(Thinking of my Grandmother, Catherine Ann Fanning)
She was always old and ever more
She became wander eyed, hollow cheeked.
Her speech left reason in the dust
Rambling among ruins of thought and circumstance.
Leaves and birds were waves along the ocean tops;
Reminders of the land she couldn’t own
From father and mother stolen
And beaten brothers wept for in hollow years,
Mountains, reveries and sips of wine,
Poetry , prayer, pulled from a bag of rocks
She carried on her walk through town
Her fortune and her only friend.
Balance, ballast and fare to pay
Should the bus come her way.
“I have it here in my bag,” she’d say,
Shaking the old thing. It clattering away
The dry sound of bones in a bag,
Punctuation, and a smile so sad
You’d like to cry. But still she’d bend
To the work, searching through her history.
Work worn fingers she would spread
To show her strength, her generosity.
Her eyes full. Her hands empty.
Growing stone at the bottom of the sea
One grain, one diatomic shell by shell
Builds white cliffs like waves along morning shores.
A thousand centuries and ten thousand more
Aren’t enough to raise it man high over
Gray backed, white capped ranks, wild
Winds whining while waves roar.
The waves around in her room. She was Helen.
Like the sun at home, and stole herself beyond
The West where she became her own white
Cliff in memory, a rock high against
The shadow of the sun emptied into her.