Ode to a Grandmother I Never Knew
by Peggy L. DuBlois


by Peggy L. DuBlois

She is a hard-working person

With a clean apron

Wiping her hands on a towel

Tied to her apron string.

She has the uncanny ability

To press laundry

While the dough is rising

And telling one daughter

That her braid is too loose

Another daughter

That her sweater needs mending.

She can spot a fallen hem

From a block away

Throw open a window

And call that daughter home

Before the neighbors see her “like that.”

She buys bananas from the back of the truck

That pulls up at the corner

And notes the exact price in her ledger—

Black, with precise handwriting

Mastered in third grade

Under the watchful eye of her own mother.

She plays cribbage every night

With a husband I will never know

Who works at the train yard

And at the college,

Bringing home insignificant funds

That get recorded in the ledger

Along with the income of the children

Who live at home and pool

Their resources during the depression.

She quilts a blanket

From old shirts, torn by a nail

Ripped by her hand

Stored in a rag basket

Cut into squares

Pieced together with tiny stitches

Transformed into a blanket

That will travel across country by train

In a hope chest that I will find in an attic

Two generations later just when

Motion sickness has dropped me

Into a life I don’t recognize

I wrap myself in its embrace

And hear the whispers of Ma Mémère—

Tu es fort comme moi, ma belle fille

The grandmother I never knew.