My grandmother had
a heart like a mountain.
There were places in that landscape
no one else had ever gone, places
where days were stored like
old limp garments, days
even she couldn’t bear to recall,
paths she could never retrace.
The scent of her firstborn, his soft
hair, his little shoes laid in the dust,
a soldier son, wounded in battle,
his hearing lost, afraid of storms,
who went to the ground when lightning
rolled through the living room,
another son, angry, defiant,
telling her, “You’re an old woman,
Mother. You’re old.”
Some days, words, images, lived
at the ends of trails that gradually
grew over. She heard the birds and
waterfalls that lived in her own
breast. Light beamed from her face,
leaf shadows dappled it.
She was a mountain woman, a barefoot
girl washed in spring water,
acquainted with pails and ladles,
whom the land fed and finally
took back: first mind, then
soul, then body that even the piney breeze
blew across with wild respect and love.