i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling) ~ E.E. Cummings
My grandmother’s clutch
on her deathbed commands my face
too close for comfort. I haven’t yet
realized the foundation of love
Nobody knows these words are her
last. The day before, she was lost
in this grim institution,
howbeit I built bridges to reach her.
Grandma, do you remember
my finest hours, playing in her
four o’clocks, harvesting and planting,
delighted by the unexpected sprouts
she received as my heart-
gifts. Spinning her collection of antique
marbles when the weather
prevented my intrepid
exploration of peach
and apple trees, magnolias and
sugar maples, the grape arbor
heavy and sweet, buzzing with bees.
Infinite patience as she taught me
botany and canning, tasting jams
and jellies as her true ghost
stories raised goosebumps.
The terrified nights of a sensitive
young child, mapping familiar
territory. So I’m not the only one.
You remember for me, she said,
so today I am back, I’ve composed
a poem and I read it to her.
We sit in silence until her fingers
like talons bring my ear close.
I croon, oh, my darling,
this threshold you have crossed
before. Listen to the call of love
beyond this heartbeat where
I hold you, always. She slips
away, silent as the others finally
gather, watching her last breath.