My Grandmother's Photograph

The wind tonight is not quite spring but holds
a fragrant hint of soil, and blind shoots
wake to that scent.
                             In gusts at once warm and cool
there is no room for bare feet or women like white birds
in Grecian gowns. It's not yet May and sixty-five years
have spun by. She's dead, who in this photograph presses
naked feet against grass, raises arms to dance,
a white shawl drifting like feathers from her hands.
She knows nothing yet. Her confidence, tender
as a bird's.
                  I can't trust the web spun between us
to bind her, it's stretched over so many years.
Looking at this girl, I wonder how much I would explain to her,
how I could warn her that her first child will be still-born.
Defying the doctor to conceive another, she'll take a pin
to the French safe he made her husband wear. Her daughter
will bear me and I will remember her old in the mahogany bed
lying in regal darkness at the curving hall's end,
never dreaming of this white-gowned girl with waist-long hair
stepping into the history of her life

and mine. The wind pushing through her to me
is fecund with dreams and mud and doesn't tie us. Each movement
I make toward her is another step in her dance, another breath
of wind pressing her forward into the season.
                                                                         I remember gathering
her sweeping hair into a widow's bun. Her hair still dark as
distance, yet light as birds and the girl I create of her.

Copyright © Neile Graham, 1994. All rights reserved.
Previously published in Spells for Clear Vision and Dandelion.

Sample poems

From Blood Memory

(at The Alsop Review): Story 1 § Sleeping With Lambs § Furious § The Basement Exit § Paper Rock Scissors Stone Water Air § Storyteller Talking At The End of Her Days § You Designed the Map § Ravenous § Tuppence in Pocket § Sheela-na-Gig § A Course in Sadness

(here onsite): The Skin of our Teeth § Woman at the Edge of the World

From Spells for Clear Vision

My Grandmother's Photograph § Washing at Sunset § Midfire § Hero at the Gates of Hell

From Seven Robins

Heart of Stone § November Arrives on the Coast § Seven Robins § Sky is that Moment § St. Maudlin (La Folle)

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