(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.



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