In the dark evening, my father and I
walk down the road to the old house
where my grandmother lived,
and we see through the door an old woman’s feet
lifted up, tired, on a footstool,
still in her thick stockings,
the feet with legs and stockings
looking just like Grandma’s
after bearing nine children who lived,
standing, working all day,
the kind of woman who made stacks of toast, platters of eggs
for all of us each hot morning,
did laundry, then lunch,
supper, and worked with the animals
or cleaning fish
the rest of the day.
I want to go open that door as I did
so many times in the past, remembering
not to slam the screen, as everyone would yell
although I am now also older and finite,
the seams of myself coming apart.
How I wish I could go to that woman
with her legs up and rub her feet,
put liniment on her legs.
Years have passed through the doors
of that house, of memory, doors of the past
and my father’s eyes
are sad, looking in,
his own memories, not mine,
thinking maybe of his mother
and some of his old belongings,
the stolen Colt of his own father,
the bracelet he gave me with his R.A. number.
Her memories are unremembered,
as my grandfather’s,
as those before them,
I think of what this poem is about,
only partly about memory,
our many losses.
And walking with my father
I walk with my grandparents,
among the first to be numbered:
Linda Hogan, “Walking with My Father” from Dark. Sweet. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Hogan. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press.
Source: Dark. Sweet. (Coffee House Press, 2014)