Friday, March 4, 2011

The care and feeding of grandmothers

My grandmothers fed me, Cynthia said
A glass of water, honey? A piece of pie?
And I thought of Mabel Brainard
And her parceled-out sweetness
Of Vicks cherry cough drops, one for each of us
As she read Anne of Green Gables aloud
In her bed early on those summer mornings
My mother took us each August to visit her family
But I don’t remember a single thing
Grandma B ever cooked for us
I can’t remember a meal or snack or treat in all those
Years of one-week vacations after the burgers and milkshakes
We got in Pasco at the drive-in as we headed up to Kellogg.
And I thought of Violet Kelly
And her brown-sugar fruit cocktail cake
Coming out of that iron beast of a wood stove
In the kitchen at St Cloud Ranch
Me kneeling on a rough wooden chair
To spin the beaters and whip the cream
She’d urge me to take a second big piece
And finish the cream
Violet whose blood sugar had kept sweets
From her own lips all my life
Her thin legs roughly scarred from the daily insulin injection
I caught her at once
Made us sugar cookies in the deep winter
Of my 9-year-old unhappiness
Bought me caramels and movie magazines
When I was a sullen 13
Made huckleberry cobbler with her sister Edythe
And hand cranked the ice cream when we stayed
On the dairy in Cloverdale
And I thought about how I still miss Violet
Who died when I was 16
And how I hadn’t seen Mabel
In 20 years when she died at 101.

1 comment:

sorella said...

Dear Jill

What an evocative poem! I hope you keep writing poetry, because I love reading what you come up with.