Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two Poems About My New Granddaughters

On October 29th, my tenth grandchild was born. Her name is Alma Drew Youngren. On December 18th, number eleven came into the world. Her name is Willa Louise Hacket. Both of them needed medical intervention at birth. Alma, particularly, was very sick. She spent four weeks in the hospital and there was a brief period when it looked like she might not make it. She is fine now. Willa’s problems were much less serious, but coming on the heels of her cousin, were a significant scared for all her family. Willa, also is now doing fine.
These are two poems I wrote about my newest grandchildren.

Which way to go?

Alma has crossed the border,
Waded the water,
But she hasn’t decided to
Stick around
She is a tiny wetback
From the country
The dearly departed
Tell campfire stories to
The unborn.
She has one foot
In the finite future
And the other
In the infinite past.

Which way to go?
Ahead to warm snuggling in the family bed
Hyperactive doggy kisses from Riley,
Chasing cousins whose legs are seven years longer than hers,
Good Night Moon, The Run Away Bunny, Where the Wild Things Are
Getting on the school bus
Learning cribbage
Algebra, geometry, calculus
Some skinny boy with braces and wispy chin whiskers
A dorm room with a tattooed roommate from Cincinnati
Boston, Brooklyn, Austin
Another boy with muscles like an anatomy chart
Couple of kids
Joy, heartbreak, more joy, more heartbreak
A man with two kids of his own
The house that finally feels like home
Saying good bye to grandparents, parents, friends
Saying good bye, good bye, good bye?
And it all goes by in a heartbeat.

(Meaning we can’t understand it)
She bakes stollen with Thea
Plays tennis with Bob
Smokes Camels with Maizie while sewing a quilt
Looks up Johnny and finds him running the tilt-a-whirl
Hears all the old stories about me from Ray, Francis, Jerry, and Harriet
Pats Ian’s hand and says, “Its OK, baby. Its all OK.”
Prepares a hell of a welcome for Natalie and Armin.

Which way to go?

The Jelly Bean Seems to be Here to Stay

Miranda, my only biological child,
Was conceived
In The Astro Motel
In Dodge City, Kansas.
It was 1971.
I was married to Andrea back then.
We were driving
A Volkswagen van
Across the US of A.
Andrea could feel her ovaries ping.
“Motel tonight,” she said.
Being twenty-six
I just smiled
And nodded my head.
Four weeks later,
In Sweetwater California,
A pregnancy test confirmed
What we already knew.
Until the day she was born,
Miranda was known as “Sweetwater.”
Forty years later,
Saying my prayers,
As I wait to fall asleep,
Sometimes I throw in,
“God bless Sweetwater.”

I don’t know anything
About the conception of
My mother Maizie.
She was an only child
Orphaned before she was two,
Raised by Aunt Callie and Daddy Jim,
Her and cousin Hobert, another orphan.
They helped take care of the “real” kids;
Frank, Charlie, Dave and Mary Jane.
Maizie had already been married once
When she met my father, Johnny.
She was nineteen.
He tripped her up
While they were walking through
The rotating barrel
At Jefferson Beach
Amusement Park.
It was easy to stay
On your feet in the barrel
By walking into the motion,
Stepping up the wall
As it rotated downward.
But it was credible
To trip over the feet
Of the long legged blond
And end up entwined
As the polished wood floor slid by under you,
Struggle to your feet,
Help her up,
Go down again,
Roll around,
Go to the beer garden by the lake,
Dance real close.

One thing led to another,
But I didn’t come along
Until Maizie was twenty-six.
“Them doctors told me
I couldn’t have children.
But I showed them.”
She only showed them once.
Maizie taught me
to say my prayers
As I wait to fall asleep.

Miranda is forty now.
She’s pregnant.
She showed the doctors.
This is likely to be
My only
Biological grandchild,
The only child, of an only child, of an only child, of an only child.
For a long time
I wasn’t allowed
To tell anyone
About this only child
Who took so long to come along,
Who in the first ultrasound
Was the size
Of a jelly bean.
Now it is OK
The jelly bean
Seems to be here to stay.
I can tell everyone.
I can write poems.
Saying my prayers
As I wait to fall asleep
I can say,
“God bless the jelly bean.”

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