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)
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.
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