Grandma Ranch

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Today is my Grandma Ranch’s birthday. I am so lucky to have her. I wrote this poem for a class last year. I don’t know that she would remember the stories in the same way — they change when they’re retold, don’t they? In any case, thanks for being such a powerful person, Grandma; I love you. Happy birthday.

Going Home

I have been in the kitchen
where my grandmother turned
with a frying pan in hand
to face Italian mafia men
and Detroit cops
who bought hunting advice
and guns at the same shop
ended up at the same ranch
and nearly had a knife fight
there, in the kitchen.

I have stood on the ground
where my grandfather’s mother
homesteaded, left behind
a wood frame in tall grass
that stayed on falling down
for years into my childhood
until the year a fire consumed
180,000 acres of Montana around our ranch
and the land up Trout Creek.

I have passed the one-room schoolhouse
where another grandmother taught the ranching children
who walked all the miles
even in winter
back and forth
and I know the story of the one
so cold when he arrived
that my grandmother had to run warm
water and rub and rub
to thaw his blue black fingers.

And I am proud
although the nobility of it
escapes me sometimes
when I notice everything has remained the same.
These women are only remembered
by their daughters.

I am tired of wisdom in resignation.

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6 responses »

  1. These women may be remembered by their daughters, yes. I think the males remember, also. But peer pressure still won’t allow them to express their admiration. The time will come…

    • I know you’re right. Sometimes it’s just the feeling you, though, you know? It’s just that disappointment with what seems like an absent memory. But much of it does survive and that is a very good thing.

    • Yes, I remember the smell of home baked bread baked in a wood burning kitchen stove, a side arm water heater attached. I remember churning butter, home made choke cherry jam, fresh vegtables out of the irrigated garden. As a younger woman she rode out of her home stead on Trout Creek, on horse back, to teach in a one room school. And later, her son married the perfect daughter in law, your grandmother, to carry on the spirit and power of a pioneer woman. Now it is your turn. You have that gift, pioneer spirit and power, endurance, taking risks, awareness and knowledge ((and ageless wisdom) to carry on. The time has come for sons and daughters to join together to honor those that came before …who made it possible for you to carry on. I have no doubtt that you will!

      • Aw, thank you so much for this beautiful comment and set of memories.

        I’m so proud of my family — good people — I only hope I can live up to their standards 🙂

  2. Soak it in, let it simmer. Stories crowding the shadows of consciousness. Firmly nudging. Guilting if necessary. Stories determined not to vanish like old barns over the years. Substance. Somehow tales searching for way to survive until others know and pass it on.
    Sorry for the rambling. Recognize a sadness. These women were so independent, resourceful, courageous – sounds much like what modern girls way they want to be like?
    Inherited a ton of stories, too that need to live.

    • I like the rambling — it’s good to get out all the thoughts (for you) and to hear all the thoughts I’m provoking (for me).

      Good luck getting all the inherited stories to live — it can be tough, I think, to capture them in the ‘right’ way.

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