“There’s something special about a grandmother’s house. You never forget how it smells.” Fredrik Backman’s character says that in his book, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Backman* is so much more than a writer. He’s a touchstone for humanity.

My grandmother married quite young and came straight to America.  Her disillusionment was profound.

Happy Mother’s Day, Nonna.  Thank you for buying a return ticket. ♥

I’m more curious than George about these two, wishing I had asked more questions and begged for more stories.

The Ticket

In the dank cellar on Oak Avenue,

she shovels coal into the firebox.

Outside, the hens squawk about their fate.

She misses the hill town in Piemonte,

where the earth drives you mad with the scent of growing things.

Here there is bread to bake and children to bear,

the ache in the small of her back

indifferent to her desire

for purses of gnocchi and fresh butter.

Here there are no clusters of purple grapes

ripening under an apricot sky,

just grey sheets to scrub

and a brown metal bed that lists.

She used to feast on music and laughter,

stories, tart and sweet,

but those days are done

and she is swallowed up

by black stockings, rolled down to just below her knees,

and shapeless dresses skirting hard-looking calves.

With a ragged moppeen,

she scrubs away sin and regret,

kneels on yellowed linoleum squares

in a house grown smaller in size.

She fingers the ticket in her pocket.

Will he remember the feel of her cheekbones?

the line of her hip under his hand?

She packs the one photograph of them.

That and the white silk dress on a wire hanger.

Toni 5/13/17

*Bachman’s books are not to be missed.

“Behind all your stories is always your (grand)mother’s story. Because hers is where yours begin. – Mitch Albom

Canada Warbler Photo by Alex Kearney: a thing of beauty is a joy forever as I (and John Keats) like to say.

Alex Kearney is one of the birders in the area. He is a marvelous photographer of birds. Many thanks, Alex!

Canada Warbler Photo by Alex Kearney: a thing of beauty is a joy forever as I (and John Keats) like to say.