Thursday, December 16, 2010
Someday, a little grandchild will run and find me working in the dim light of a beautiful, cavernous barn. The barn might be a real one, beside a house in the country down a narrow road, or it might be in a little room up a creaky flight of stairs and made entirely from imagination, memory, and dreams. Either way, the child will know it is a barn, even if he or she has never seen one — even, in fact, if I have imagined the child, as I have now, with clear eyes and perfect limbs, and a voice like a shepherd’s song.
There will be sweet-smelling hay in the barn,
an old lantern, table, and door, outlandish plans
for an ark, worn leather, maps, and dust.
“Grandpa? It’s time for supper.”
“Oh, really? And whom do we have here?”
“Me? Let me see, now. . . . No, I don’t know anyone by that name.”
“Grandpa. . . .”
“But your voice is familiar. Are you a lion?”
“Oh — I know. You’re a window-washer, and you’ve come to wash my windows.”
“Grandpa, you don’t have any windows.”
“But I do. Look up here. See where the shingles are missing?”
“That’s your head.”
“Well, aren’t you going to wash it?”
“No. It’s too dusty. Tell Grandma to wash it.”
“I can’t. Grandma is busy sewing carrots.”
“She is not. You can’t sew carrots. They’re too hard.”
“She’s sewing potatoes, then.”
“No . . . cranberries.”
Dear Grandma. I can see her now, holding the finest silk, spun from her oldest, most cherished dreams. The family has come to visit. Happily, she weaves a cloud for every bed.
From Songs and Letters, originally published December 5, 2006.