1954 – Beneath a Pull String


Grandmother – Your thumb curled back,

Lick it – Lick it…
Turn pages of your bible
while you sit on garments
pressing them.

Everything is home made –
material above a radiator
moves in the night. . .
back and forth, back and forth –

Your apron covers a navy
blue dress – you must be
going to church – but right
now you’re stirring homemade
cocoa –
stir it – stir – stir –

It’s morning – or afternoon –

Grandmother’s footsteps reach
her landing on the second
floor – her voice calls out
“Grand daughter, it’s time.”
Little legs bend as hands
clinging tightly to a railing on
a twisting staircase.

You sit there beneath a pull string
which hits your head each
time you and I have morning cocoa –

On your back a red sweater –
half buttoned, holes at the elbow,
the left side.

You twisted in your chair,
back and forth, I know you
wanted to be comfortable –
then you smiled.

You were never tall – although
that string, the one to pull for
light in your kitchen – kept
swinging back and forth.

That string, in the morning

You would connect a long
plug as it hit your head –

now I know it was
a cord to your toaster, and radio –
in  afternoon or night – connected
listening to church songs.

Often I notice your ankle’s
were never thin – never did
ask you why –

You connected yet another
cord to your toaster, to the same
pull string for light in early morning –

Curled thumbs flipped toast
from side to side as you opened
up to investigate – to see if the
toast was done.

Strange how a cord so
insignificant today – would be a
memory connecting you to me –


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