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My Father's Mother
Poem by Ishmael 6/29/17


I can see her, at times, in my dreams…

In my dream one night, they were washing her body

And combing her hair, in the living room of the old house…

My father’s mother whom I never met—

She died at age 29 and left what I have of her—

One picture and three stories…

They stayed with me.

The first time my father spoke of her,

we were fishing together…

She had her dress hiked up around her waist,

Clubbing mountain white fish trapped in irrigation ditch…

In the 1920s in rural Utah, you ate off the land.

He spoke one cold winter evening, as we froze in a deer stand…

He was young, sitting on her lap, looking out the window,

While coyotes hunted in the lower pasture, in a winter covered field,

Moonlight glistening like pearls on the fresh snow…

Then a drunken night, fishing in Wyoming on the Green,

my father watching the nighthawks, wheeling in the sunset,

When my mother died…

We took care of the body in those far away times,

Watched my grandmother wash her long black hair, comb it,

And arrange the plain white dress for her burial…

Thought I saw a tear running down my father’s cheek,

Though it was hard to tell with him—

He was a tough old bird…

His was a harsh life,

And it made him a hard man…

He lost a child, my older brother—

We were very close because of this,

We spent a lot of time together…

But when I catch a whitefish, or hear a coyote,

See the nighthawks at dusk…

I think of my grandmother.

Add Comment
IshmaelJuly 20, 2017 9:22 AM UTC

thank you, Lili Hun is a great editor, her instincts and help are appreciated, thank all, who help support this site.
Nero the PictJuly 19, 2017 11:57 AM UTC

Ishmael. Not much given to poetry. However, this is beautiful. You are like a Kipling of the Rockies. Good stuff man
Mesc FranklinJuly 18, 2017 7:59 PM UTC

Beautiful, Ishmael, Beautiful. I think of both my grandmothers often to keep from writing off woman of my own race. It is not dead and it can be reborn….through struggle.