From the Editor: Celebrating April as National Poetry Month, the Delmarva Review joins with Spy and poets from across the land to present an outstanding poem each week during April. This is the second poem, with commentary from the poet for Spy’s discerning readers.
Author’s Note: I wrote “Grandmother” while my grandmother was still living, and then read it at her memorial service. She was my best friend. I was told I shouldn’t write a grandmother poem because it would be too sentimental. I’m glad I didn’t follow that advice. I will always remember waking in the hospital after a suicide attempt to my grandmother’s eyes. They were filled with compassion. She truly taught me how to treat other people with kindness and love. We were connected; soul to soul. I miss her daily. – Kristina Morgan
Grandmother By Kristina Morgan
The shopkeeper tells me elephants symbolize infinity
as he bags the wooden calf. You dislike fresh flowers,
say they hold death in their stalks. I offer you this calf;
it holds the heat of my palm in its belly. You take it.
You set it on the end table next to your recliner
where you spend most of your time.
I am hoping to collect you from the afterlife.
You say to bury the calf with you.
Let it be your guide back to me,
to the place on my shoulder where the soft weight of you
will sit. Do you know weight can whisper? you ask.
If you say so, I answer.
You make certain I know where the hair clip is
that you gave me when I was three,
a gift from your mother.
We have agreed I will serve marshmallows at your memorial,
keeping the day light, allowing children to play jacks. I don’t know
how I will keep flowers away, imagine calla lilies walking on toe.
We spend Thursday noon at the grocery store, pause in the cookie aisle
to look at all the Oreos. Red stuffed. Green stuffed. Double stuffed.
You think you keep me too long this time.
How can I assure you my time is never better spent?
You are an alarm. You wake me to what is important.
I see your shoulders now slope forward. They have borne the tugging
of people who depended on you. You kept shoes on feet
and offered houses that sheltered.
You show me the spots on your hands. I think of the beauty of bark.
I know you are tired of being an old woman. If I could pull age
from your hair, I would. I, like you, have grayed. I use color; you
leave things white.
You walk before me, turn to see why I have stopped. The light of the low sun
envelops you. It is hard for me to see. Will I still be kind in your absence?
You have shown me how to extend my hand and sense the spiritual
deep within others. I see the lily pads supporting frogs as they settle
on the pond. Life can be like this.
It will be hard not to miss you. Have you ever tried to move an arm after it has fallen asleep? It takes another arm to wake it up.
I will remember the way the sun lit you from behind,
how your smile strengthened mine
that Thursday noon.
You have been nine months dead. I hear you in the evenings. The sky
is not crowded. I say moon, you say yes. I say galaxies, you say roam.
I say star, you say plenty. I say I miss you, and you say
I’m not gone.
Kristina Morgan’s creative nonfiction essay “Hospital Visit Number 19” appeared in Delmarva Review in 2017 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her book-length memoir “Mind Without a Home: A Memoir of Schizophrenia” was published by Hazelden in 2013. Her poetry has appeared in LocustPoint, Open Minds, and The Awakening Review. She received an MFA in creative writing and poetry from Arizona State University. She lives in Scottsdale with her two cats, Grams and Annie.
Delmarva Review publishes the best of poetry, creative nonfiction, and short fiction selected from thousands of submissions annually from authors in the region, across the United States, and beyond. The independent literary journal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Print and digital editions are available at Amazon and other major online bookstores. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.