from The Minstrel of Belmont: Grace

I’ve written a few poems about my grandmother. She was a dynamic personality while I grew up, even though half of that time we were separated by half the Pacific. Her early life was a hard one, filled with tragedy and poverty, and it made her a hard person. She suffered no fools. She was also the person who took me to Japan for the first time, which was an adventure in more ways than one.

A couple of years ago, I visited my parents with my daughter and we looked at some of Grandma’s photo albums. I didn’t remember them, but she probably showed them to me what I was a kid. There were a lot of pictures of her as a teenager. It was a different look for me, to see my stern, tough Grandma with the soft, giggly face of a girl. It was an image that stuck with me and was one of the first poems I wrote during my Tupelo Press 30/30 month.


She was the hardest
woman I’ve ever known
tough as nails
stubborn as a mule
making her own rules
and when she died,
she waited
until we arrived,
stood by the side
of the bed. Her eyes
shut tight,
the sudden breath,
then silence.
We waited in the quiet
a long time
before calling the nurse.
No need for her
to call out in our dreams
and slip away
into paradise
like Grandpa did.

Today, I look
at a photo of her
in nineteen thirty,
young, pretty, and smiling,
orphaned but still
looking for a good time
leaning against
the Road Closed sign
at the edge
of the cane field,
Mom, still a dream,
me, not imagined,
with little brothers and sisters
to attend to.
But for a moment,
for this picture,
not a care in the world
in the soft radiance
of her face.

“Grace” was written during the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge and published in The Minstrel of Belmont by Finishing Line Press.

This entry was posted in Creative Writing, Family, Japanese America, Minstrel of Belmont, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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