Thursday, April 12, 2007

Deep tracks

I think of my grandmother, Mimi, when I read this next poem. Soon after she died, her house was renovated and nothing of her was left: her furniture, her walls of photos I helped her hang (more than four dozen photos, I am proud to say -- most on the wall you see above), the paint on the walls.

There were still sodas in her refrigerator, and I had one as I stood in this house that wasn't hers anymore. She always had made sure there were cold sodas in the fridge, and I always drank one when I visited. I couldn't break the tradition. Even as she lay in her hospital bed across from her wall of photos, I had a soda. (I just made sure the hand with which I held hers was the warm one.)

Consider this poem, re-read it a few times. It will surprise you. It did me.

Things Shouldn't Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small—
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn't
be so hard.

by Kay Ryan from The Niagara River. © Grove Press.
Thanks to The Writer's Alamanac

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