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By Denise Low

Walking home I feel a presence following

          and realize he is always there

that Native man with coal-black-hair who is

          my grandfather. In my first memories

he is present, mostly wordless,

          resident in the house where I was born.

My mother shows him the cleft in my chin

          identical to his. I am swaddled

and blinking in the kitchen light. So

          we are introduced. We never part.

Sometimes I forget he lodges in my house still

          the bone-house where my heart beats.

I carry his mother’s framework

          a sturdy structure. I learn his birthright.

I hear his mother’s teachings through

          what my mother said of her:

She kept a pot of stew on the stove

          all day for anyone to eat.

She never went to church but said

          you could be a good person anyway.

She fed hoboes during the ‘30s,

          her back porch a regular stop-over.

Every person has rights no matter

          what color. Be respectful.

This son of hers, my grandfather,

          still walks the streets with me.

Some twist of blood and heat still spark

          across the time bridge. Here, listen:

Air draws through these lungs made from his.

          His blood still pulses through this hand.


Denise Low, "Walking with My Delaware Grandfather" from Mélange Block. Copyright © 2014 by Denise Low.  Reprinted by permission of Denise Low.

Source: Mélange Block (Red Mountain Press, 2014)

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Poet Bio

Denise Low
Former Kansas poet laureate Denise Low earned her BA, MA, and PhD in English from the University of Kansas, and her MFA from Wichita State University. She is a fifth generation Kansan of mixed British Isles, German, and unaffiliated Delaware (Lenape and Munsee) and Cherokee heritage. She and her husband Thomas Pecore Weso co-publish Mammoth Publications, an independent press that specializes in Indigenous American and Great Plains poetry and literary prose. See More By This Poet

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