Annie, my grandmother
|Prompt for: Jan 7, 2016 (fyn)
Subject or Theme: Today (116 years ago) was my grandmother's birthday. What kind (good, bad, horrific, magnificent, massive or nil) of an impact did/does a grandparent have/had on your life? Not you as a grandparent, but one of your grandparents.
Word(s) to Include: mimic, distance, confession, marble (or any derivatives of these words)
Forbidden Word(s): love, child, (or any derivatives, compound or hyphenations of these words)
Additional Parameters: At least 24 lines or a form that is 24 lines or more. non-rhyming. Remember, do not use forbidden words ANYWHERE, including title or the brief description.
I called her Annie. She never liked
the Grammy, Grandma, Gram appellatives,
she was Annie and that was that!
She always saw me.
Never lost me in the shuffle of day to day;
Not even when she was across oceans,
trekking in the Himalayas
or in some other place incredibly far away.
She always seemed to know and would call me
(back in the days when 'long distance' was dear, often scratchy)
to hear my voice and know I was okay.
Saw through me, too,
more times than I'd like to admit
or than she ever said. But she did and her look
spoke volumes. There were times I was not
a nice person. I stole twenty dollars from her.
She caught me: that look could pull a confession
out of a marble statue. Made me go cut a switch.
Annie said she'd failed me. I was to hit each of her
five times. Liked to have killed me. Never, ever forgot.
That. The lesson. The guilt.
Native Mohawk women did not receive their true name
until they were able to bear children.
Annie took me into the mountains,
wanted to remind me of the native ways.
Her grandmother was full blooded Mohawk,
a medicine woman, a queen
in a tribe where women were rarely valued.
A week with nothing more than bare feet, a blanket, a knife.
I learned to run deer trails without a sound,
cajole a fish into my opened palm, identify leaves and roots,
boil sassafras tea in a bark bowl,
mimic the wild hawk.
I danced naked in a moonlit field of flowers,
rolled in morning dew
and received my Indian name.
Annie would walk with me
down dusty country roads or 5th Avenue.
She rarely talked just to make noise;
when she spoke at length, she had words to say.
I remember her making me memorize poetry:
entire poems with hundreds of lines. Made me understand
what I was reciting. Whitman, Thoreau, Browning, and Donne
became friends of the page. Frost became a friend of my soul.
She taught me about revision: of words, of deeds, of life journeys.
She brought me to Camelot, showed me how dogs gave birth,
woke me to watch the geese arrow overhead
and held me when it was time for my horse to die.
Annie could peel an apple with her thumbnail.
I'd watch as the one, long skin would unfurl
and listen as she told fortunes in the peelings.
She had a wicked sense of humor
and an implacable sense of justice.
She taught me how to make May baskets,
make a logical argument, to speak Latin
and to be comfortable eating when the place setting
had more silver than I had years.
She told me that she would never expect more of me
than she knew I was capable of achieving.
Her expectations were moon high.
Darned if she didn't teach me to fly.
I snuck her beloved basset hound
onto the grounds of her nursing home.
Wheelchair bound, unable to stand any longer,
she slipped to the grass and rolled joyfully.
A woman and her dog saying goodbye.
That was the last time I saw her.
She died that evening.
Guilt assailed me:
had I hastened her end?
My mother brought me a short note
scribbled almost illegibly.
Thank you for today.
It means more to me than words
can ever express.