for my grandfather, Miles

he tells me about the pollinators

he saw in the garden this morning going

about their duties. he sees the poetry

in everything, in the wings of fat bees

hovering above zucchini leaves,

the legs of beetles climbing up dark-green kale stalks.

i am trying to see the poetry

in the fact that i have had to sleep in my childhood bed

every night this summer, the summer i had planned

to walk cobblestone paths with the other poets,

learning about Wilde and Yeats; the summer

i planned to fall asleep time zones away.

yet plans changed, and every night i fall asleep

looking at my windowsill, at the plants i forgot

when i left for college three years ago.

my grandfather never forgets

to water plants. he would never

let flowers wilt on his windowsill.

he always finds time for the things he cares about.

one summer, he planted a bed of flowers

outside the kitchen window

so my grandmother could look at them

as she cooked. baked kale on the kitchen table,

fresh broccoli, steamed swiss chard and bush beans.

these last three years, i only had

these greens on occasion, as a side

on Thanksgiving or on a weekend visit when i could find the time.

but this year, this summer, i have had

tomatoes, beans, peppers, with nearly every meal,

have even helped tend to them

in the garden.

i am trying to see the poetry in this summer,

this summer of self-isolation and uncertainty, the summer in which

i am able to visit my grandparents every day,

the summer i remembered what roots are.

my grandfather shows me what to do

in the garden. i try

not to think of the dead plants on my windowsill,

try to think instead of the new things starting at my fingertips

as i kneel on the soil, dig my hands into the earth.

i am trying to listen to my grandfather talk

about the bees, beetles, and butterflies, trying

not to think about the irony

that the one summer the tomatoes do not have blight,

humanity does.

just past the barn, my grandfather goes every morning,

into the woods, the place in which he sees the most poetry.

sometimes he marks the dirt trails for me,

leaves sticks pointing toward wild-growing plants.

when i have time (which is often this summer),

i walk the same path he does, stop at the markers he left for me.

i think i am starting to see the poetry

in the drooped head of yellow trout lily, in the curl of ferns,

in the Pennsylvania creeper, the weeds, the ramps,

in the unplanned

but beautiful.


This poem was written during the summer of 2020 when I was supposed to be studying abroad in Ireland, but (because of the pandemic) was back in my hometown. Rather than focusing on the negatives, I tried to look at the good things, such as getting to spend time with my grandparents again. My grandfather helped me to see the positives in such a dark time, and that is what this poem is about.

About the Artist

Liza Rose,  Cambria County
Published:  May 28, 2021