Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Fourteenth Contest :: Second Place Winner

Grandpa's Light

by Annette Manders
I remember what he told me
in the garden on Arbutis Street
the summer I was eight.

Pulling up plants
from clay pots, twisting off the clumpy soil
from fragile roots.
Me with my impatient-child hands, him
with his steady
weathered ones, and
his satisfied murmurings as he patted down the dirt
after each plant was placed
in the holes we'd dug
before breakfast.

I talked so much!
The questions I had about everything –
I cannot remember, just
his patience in listening
and his efforts to answer.

There were carpets of flowers, yellow and pink,
and fledgling vines
climbing the white lattice of the arbor. In the
small shed where he kept his tools
I was princess of the summer, commanding ornamentals
with my rake and shovel. When I would wander
past the boundary of the yard
at the dusky end of day
he'd say dinner's on
the wind,
ice cream for dessert.

Once I crossed the
boundary, empty jar in hand.
A little while later
a butterfly
was flailing against
the glass. I had screwed
the lid on
very tightly and run
to show him my prize.

His voice was serious,
and I didn't see him smile –
although his eyes
were kind
when he told me that all things deserve
their turn to live.

We sang after dinner,
silly songs on the porch swing, the
empty jar on a shelf in the kitchen. The sky grew
dark and a firefly
blinked on and off.

Grandpa looked across the night, I thought, at something
on the other side. He said
the moon is always there
even if you can't see it,
and when a star is gone
its light still comes
to see you. He held my small hand
in his large wrinkled palm,
and we were both quiet then, young and
old and ageless.

The next week –
the crying house,
the dark clothes and
somber voices.
I didn't understood then
why so many tears. I knew
he wasn't
all the way gone.

And even now
in later years,
after my own tears finally found me,

I watch the light from
distant stars,

looking for Grandpa,
finding him.
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