Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poem #23 Thirty Poems in Thirty Days

Collected Works
Some phrases are found words.

On Monday the Daily Forward
printed a few pages of a Yiddish story—
the tale took time, sometimes months.
My grandmother saved columns of words
in a shoe box held tight with rubber bands
until she owned a chapter.
Then she sat by the window and pressed the paper
with the heel of her hand, sip tea from a glass and read.
Today my arm’s full of letters I plucked from my bookcase—
I puzzle over many words, notes scribbled on scraps of paper.

My grandmother Yette sent me to buy the paper once a week.
Weighing the treasures of the English language, some
classically melodramatic—I am hooked.

My grandmother kept order, her stories began with pages of beginnings.
Long stories took up several shoe boxes.
My shuffle of papers is deliberate. Can something be worth
saying in five words or less? My loquacious spirit dismisses the matter.

Yette saved scraps of paper with her name printed in English.
Some immigrants picked up used mattresses and repaired
them for resale. A man outside called “Old Clothes, old clothes for sale. “
My grandmother offered him a glass of tea.
I find a page of significant affirmations—some austerely economical.

“In Poland, I knew someone like the woman in the story.”
My grandmother told me the woman prepared a memorable meal
from a few simple ingredients, just like the story woman.
She said, “Our lives are tales.”
In my pile of papers I find
a mustard-seed-sized scrap of paper,
it says, Don’t pass it up.


Linda © 2009
NaPoWriMo: 30 Poems in 30 days

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