saturday (love letters)

My parents found a stack of poems in my grandfather’s things. They slid them into a manila envelope and brought them to me on one of their visits. I looked through them at the time, in more detail later, and then tucked them into a drawer in my room. I few weekends ago, on a cold, gray Saturday afternoon, I was cleaning and organizing some drawers and I came across the envelope again. I opened the clasp and slid the pages out across the bed.

I had been thinking about so many things as I was cleaning. Springtime, sun. The changes coming soon in the garden. Planning details around upcoming travel. What I was making for dinner later that day. I read a few of the poems again in that moment, and the threads between his scribbled cursive four decades ago and the current tumbling in my head were so clear that I stayed in that spot until I had read every last word. I carried the stack downstairs and read a few aloud to M.

Is it possible to be so loved as to inspire these morning notes, written on the backs of discarded letters and scraps of paper? There is a daily series of poems leading up to my birth; another countdown each morning for the two weeks leading up to my first Christmas. We lived four states apart at that time – before cell phones and text messages and instant photo sharing across that span. He never showed me this writing, but he saved each one in a stack, and it moved with them from Missouri, to Kentucky; into a house, an apartment, a room.

I have never doubted how much my grandfather loved me. When we were together we took up the same space. I spread across the branch of the tree that held the hammock where he reclined. I curled into his side on the basement couch watching baseball or golf on the television. I woke early and walked down the beach with him as the sun rose when I was very little. I can conjure up an image or two from those mornings, even though I was very small at the time. I can remember driving over to his house once a week during my summer internship to have lunch. I remember the wooden bowl in the center of the table full of fruit. He peeled and sliced a piece for me each visit while I ate lunch. That bowl sits in my kitchen now, still full of fruit we share after dinner each night.

The Span
9/4/76


The days measure it.
   The weeks and months give it bulk.
      The years speak of the true distance.
         The generations filter the time.

And the span,
   Which reaches from me to Kristin
Tells the story:

I in years;
   She in months.

I in age;
   She in new discovery
      Of sound
         And sense.

The span is great;
But with the passing of the years
Her discoveries;
   My delight.

An Afternoon Nap
4/5/77 (Our visit to celebrate my second birthday on 4/7)

For Kristin and her
   Grandfather
An afternoon nap
   Fulfills a need:

For her…
   A child’s sleep

For me…
   Nearness and reflections

A Morning Walk
8/11/76 – (Mexico Beach – I am 16 months old, and we are at the beach together. Mexico Beach was devastated last year by a hurricane.)

The sun had won,
Reaching the shifting sand before the two of us.
But early,
We had wandered to the shoreline
And began a meandering stroll.
She, aged only by weeks and months,
   I, by years.
She, caught be the spell of shells and sand and sea
   I, mesmerized by her.
I know, it sounds like more…
   Almost too much.
It was just a morning walk…
   Our finds:
      Our shells,
         Our sand,
            Our sea.

A morning walk
   For Kristin and me.

Green Beans and Ice Cream
(Hopkinsville, KY – 4/16/76 – we must have met up here, as this seems close to the halfway point between where I lived and he lived at the time. I’ve just turned one. This is my favorite.)

She journeyed from the east,
And I from the south.
She in the company of her parents,
I with wife and daughter.
Our rendevous was set
The menu was prepared.
Roads were traveled
The “board” awaited.
She had just turned one
My years beyond her count,
Just yet.
Our destination shared
Was an evening meal,
And so we met.
Now I do not remember what was offered
I did not tally up the fare
The time was not considered
And other company was there.

But of these things
I am sure:
Kristin came to Hopkinsville
So did her old granddad
We ordered from the menu

Green beans and good ice cream
And that is what we had.

An excerpt from An October Day – 1975
(10/7/75 – I love this whole poem – he’s written it to me on my six month birthday – it makes me think of my garden walks, and I will forever carry this last piece with me on my walks from this point forward.)

O God,
That beauty might welcome her
Each day.
And, with bounty,
Make potential real.

4 Responses to saturday (love letters)

  1. So very special and neat!

  2. What a wonderful confirmation of the love that the two of you shared.

  3. This is so beautiful. What a treasure (the man and the poems).
    Am really enjoying the additional blog posts lately! Thanks for the weekend inspiration. Hope you have a great week and that the upcoming travel will be pleasant.

  4. “Her discoveries, my delight.” A treasure beyond measure, these poems.
    Lucky, lucky girl.

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