As read at Grandma Clara’s memorial service, June 15, 2013
“You can let go now Mom”:
my uncle to my grandmother.
And she of strong Norwegian stock
did, passing quietly on a still June evening.
The next day, alone in my bedroom, I spiral up from a nap
and think of long days spent at Grandma’s,
years before the containment of adolescence.
The whir we generated, my brother and me,
in the yellow-green of midsummer—
whispers in dusty carport corners,
peels and shouts from apple tree boughs,
our fists small blurs still so careful with caterpillars.
We propellered in and out of years-soft towels
and fine lavender nightgowns bobbing on the clothesline,
and when we grew tired we dropped to the grass
and caught fat minutes of rest—
buzz of bugs and distant mowers filling,
fueling us with unnamed longing—
before starting up again. It was all so absolute,
we were practically see-through.
And later, my grandma—soft and creased and kind—
at the kitchen counter prepping dinner,
humming a song from another world as my brother and I,
grubby and happy, sat at the table
under the spell of cottage cheese with pears
canned in sweetest syrup.
My thoughts are still back there when my husband enters softly,
kissing the top of my head
and lowering our eight-week-old baby into my arms.
And in the wake of weeks grayed
with the anxiety I’d come to associate with breastfeeding,
“You can let go now Mom”—
these words reach me. And I do,
my whole body untensing, relaxing against the sheet.
And praise Light: my new son latches easily,
feeds sweetly, melts into me.