Return Leaves: What I Heard


“You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

Saturday I got to be around my family,
They live so far away making gatherings hard to arrange.
We talked about new houses, carpets, and bombs in Williamsburg,
But it was a couple of quiet moments with my grandmother
That stuck with me today.

A student, with the honesty of a Broadway critic,
Let me know how much my poetry sucks.
“I saw your blog,” he said.
“What did you think?” I asked.
He hesitated, “Not my thing. I don’t get it.”

It was funny because I heard a musician earlier
Talking about having a thick skin
Since no one is immune from the wrath of the honest appraisal
Of creative works thrown into a judgmental world.
There were no tears shed and just a simple,
“Thanks for checking it out and being honest,” from me, but
My thoughts shifted quickly to my grandmother,
Who at ninety-five still pursues literary goals.
She shared her goal of finishing another short story and
Asked me why I write.

“I like to.”

She got that look in her eye that I had seen so many times
When I would tell her about a book I was reading for school
Or when she would suggest we go swimming on a Saturday night
Instead of watching Starsky and Hutch or Fantasy Island,
The look always made me feel like something was coming
Like ice cream or cake which made the other events
A part of her magic routine.
This time he gave me that look
And in her 1950s breathy starlet voice said,

“Me too.”

I knew that was not enough, as she explained,
“Writing is fun. I love to figure it out.”
She then worked that magic of hers,
The slight of conversation where she tires of sharing
And asks questions like a television detective or fictional granter of wishes
To find out more about my thoughts and ideas for my writing.

After getting hammered by my student,
Which really is more hyperbole than actuality, call it poetic license,
It was nice to think about my night back in the Old Dominion
Hanging with my family and sharing a moment with my grandmother
That truly shows everyone in the family that I’m not some kid
My parents found on the side of the road,
But a bit of all they are, and maybe more of my grandmother
Than they can believe.

I heard that it is okay to be me,
Certainly, her style is a force that cannot be denied.
I heard that it is okay to write for me,
Maybe that’s why I shy away from publishing.
I heard that I should forget the critics
Because I write for me,

Like she does for her.


Photo Credit: unknown (My grandmother and mom…not so long ago…)

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