“Grandmother:” by Ilana Kelsey

Ilana Kelsey

GRANDMOTHER:

You looked at me and saw my mother’s face.
We thought old age meant occasional slips—
back then, we didn’t know that this was grace.

When we were all younger, you would chase
me through the parks, swing me onto your hip,
and smile down into my well-loved face.

We rode the flying Dumbos (and not Space
Mountain) and I got a Minnie with pink lips.
How could I know at four that this was grace?

Now you hug your own stuffed bear, to chase
away apathy. Or despair. Your grip on time shifts;
today you don’t know my face.

Before, you used to welcome an embrace;
you’d chuckle at our family’s silly quips.
We failed to see this as a state of grace.

Time travels on at a relentless pace
but time is not linear: it soars and dips.
You’ll look at me once and see a loved face.
Recognition itself is a kind of grace.

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists

[download audio]

__________

Ilana Kelsey: “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love words, so I’m often surprised to find myself pursuing a PhD in biology. Over time, however, I’ve come to appreciate how true it is that everything can be poetry, even test tubes and cell culture. These poems are a collection of reflections, often composed while doing something monotonous at the bench, that attempt to describe universal experiences even as I pursue a highly specialized career.” (website)