Grandmother is old, she is frail

I am one-hundred years

She says, though only ninety-seven

Her fingers trace patterns on the lap robe

And she watches as they move

To the right, to the left

I am nervous, she says

I am nervous

Then her hands lie open

On her thighs

Palms touching the blue wool

She lifts them up, then down

Slowly, again and again

I sit in a chair

Close to the one that enfolds her

Cover her hands with mind

And feel the flutter of her nerves

Like a thousand butterflies

That struggle for release

From their cocoons










*Written 1982, from 2001’s Poet’s are the bravest.

With Nana










In a memory of childhood

She leans over my bed

She lifts the blanket cover

And puts her hand between the sheets


Flutters her fingers in the darkness

Where I sleep at the bottom


It is Wednesday

The nurse has half-day out

Nana comes to wake me from

My nap

Pulls up the window shades

Sees the place near my pillow

Where I tear the wallpaper

Off the wall

Says nothing


The peacocks

At the Lincoln Park Zoo


I cover my ears with my hands

To muffle the noise

She takes peanuts from a paper bag

Holds one in her fingers

Between the iron bars

And waits

The ducks come to snap the peanut

From her fingers

Like the cook jabs potatoes

With a fork for baking


She says I may have a peanut

To feed the ducks

Holds the paper bag open for me

But I am afraid to put my fingers through

The iron rails of the fence

She laughs


Don’t be a goosie

They won’t bite


It is Wednesday afternoon

At the Lincoln Park Zoo

She wears a woolen suit

And ruffled blouse

Her gray hair under a feathered hat

I remember the feel of her cotton glove

In my hand

And the sound of her shoes

On the pavement










*Written 1982, from 2001’s Poet’s are the bravest.