October 22, 2014
Day after faithful day
Grandmother Gilmore rose before dawn
in a tiny log home, carved into Carolina woods.
as she tiptoes to
her snug kitchen, warm as a womb
standing by the iron-stained sink
on a weathered well-house
hard by the side yard oak
hemmed in by hickory
flanked by the forest
in darkness beyond.
Night softens, coffee perks and oats congeal
as she stirs and hums her Gospel songs -
and Precious Lord would see her through.
Did she dream of their life in the city again?
She lived high on the hog
for a Hickerson girl
till God laughed and times turned -
the good life got away again.
With Peace in the Valley
the black night recedes
through shadows and gray
to one more day much like the last.
The mama cat
would be hungry again
so she scrapes a plate of table scraps
to place beside the back porch step
with a dish of milk
for the kittens to lap.
She butters another pan biscuit
for the faraway grandchild hovering
by the kitchen table
on comic book dreams. She pours his juice
in a jelly jar as he bides his time
to warmth of day
to find his own way
through the woods and the fields
through the toils and the snares
till he no longer hears
her own voice in his mind.
But memory bears her blessed assurance
from over the Jordan in Beulah Land.
So I rise in the darkness
a half century on, still humming
her early morning song, still dreaming
my way through the vastness beyondbut perking and stirring a day like the last.
|Jean Hickerson Gilmore and her daughter, Ruth|