The Year My Grandfather Didn't Speak
by Julie Cyr

by Julie Cyr

In the photo, Grampy pushes Betzebe,

his Irish twin, in a wooden wheelbarrow.

The first two siblings of sixteen live births.

Confidantes staying out of the way

from the hands-in-dirt farm work.

Betzebe died after potato harvest that autumn,

buried on the rise with the grandparents.

Grampy laid down near her grave

day after day. His mother hauling him

inside after he fell asleep.

The following fall, he helped harvest potatoes

best he could for a boy his age.

He hoped to pull out his sister,

for she had gone into the ground.

With each potato put into the barrel,

he wanted to dig up a tuber

containing Betzebe. He pulled hundreds

searching for the one.

As autumns passed, his desire

to unearth his sister faded.

Gramp moved off the farm, visited Betzebe’s grave less.

Years later, when he sang Baby Face to me,

he also sang to her.