Freya Manfred’s Poem: Naming the Ache of Holding Memory, Holding Love, Holding Contradiction

Grandma’s Grave
by Freya Manfred

Mother and I brush long drifts of snow from the gravestones
of my great grandfather and grandmother, great uncle and aunt,
two of mother’s brothers, each less than a year old,
and her last-born brother, George Shorba, dead at sixteen:
1925-1942
A Mastermind. My Beloved Son.
But we can’t find the grave of Grandma, who buried all the rest.

Mother stands dark-browed and musing, under the pines,
and I imagine her as a child, wondering why her mother
left home so often to tend the sick, the dying, the dead.
Borrowing a shovel, she digs, until she uncovers:
1889-1962
Mary Shorba
Mother almost never cries, but she does now. She stares
at this stone as if it were the answer to all the hidden things.

“Grandma’s Grave” by Freya Manfred from Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2008.

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