2020 Poetry Marathon Hour 4 – Rita


That’s the word for you,
even if you’d never have used it for yourself.
That’s the word, Nana.

Barely over five feet tall,
But in my memory (and those of all your other grandkids)
A titan of warmth and strength.
We had our fights and disagreements,
Politics and lifestyles, money and principles.
But we all miss you, Nana.

Divorced, by choice.
In an age when Irish-American women just didn’t,
When it was as much as your soul
to leave a man who cheated, screamed, and beat.
But for your kids, and yourself,
you escaped, survived, and thrived.
And you taught us we all could, Nana.

Seven children.
Two’s enough to overwhelm me,
even with a partner and 21st century distractions.
I can barely imagine seven
trampling, demanding, LOUD, little kids.
And then THEY started having kids,
some of them not even out of their teens.
But you managed, and we loved you for it, Nana.

Laughter, and cooking.
Those are what I miss the most.
After life, those were the greatest gifts you gave us.
A meal whose savor draws a houseful of people
pulls them round a table no matter their schedule or mood
and a wry, bone-dry jab that sets them all roaring.
That’s the Family you taught us, Nana.

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