We sit on the wooden swing suspended by silver chains
hanging from the bungalow front porch ceiling.
She, elderly beyond her years, grey hair piled atop her head,
thin and wrinkled.
She stays with us sometimes when Aunt Julia goes off
on one of her adventures.
Cattle graze across the road in front of the house.
It is summer.
A bull mounts a cow.
Suddenly, out of the silence, Grandmother speaks,
“Men and bulls are just alike;
they are only interested in one thing.
A bunch of good for nothings!”
Her voice is vitriolic.
And I, a child, maybe twelve, innocent and ignorant,
sit there shocked,
to hear my grandmother talk that way.
Now, nearly fifty years later,
I wonder about her life,
what in it caused this secret bitterness
she spilled just once on that idyllic summer day.
I look at her wedding photo.
She has a steady, unsmiling, pretty face,
marrying a handsome man twenty two years her senior.
Were they happy, sad, or probably a bit of both?
I remember what my mother, her youngest daughter, told me
snippets here and there.
A hard life, endless guests
never a break from gardening, cooking, canning, cleaning.
I look at other photos of my grandmother
taken before I was born,
older, nearly as wide as she is tall, never smiling.
I remember her in an old lady’s flowery, lavender dress,
thin from years of undulate fever.
I remember her feeding me bread, butter, and sugar sandwiches,
Easter egg hunts at her house,
and later, at another house, walking with her to the corner store.
I never remember her smiling.
One thought on “Grandmother”
I like this poem, and it’s very evocative of that bewilderment and unease children feel when adults express truth from their own lives that the children don’t have the maturity or experience yet to interpret. As an amateur genealogist, I often wonder about the sex lives of our ancestors. I think that often, for the women especially, they must have been disappointing, even brutal. Besides that, women often died in childbirth or as a result of complications of childbirth. No wonder women were believed not to like sex very much in those times!