TUESDAY: Our Grandma

BY C. J. PAPOUTSIS

Copyright is held by the author.

Yia Yiá, our grandma
speaks Greek — loud fast
whistled through her teeth.

Dressed in black
she walks like an apostrophe
and smells of mothballs and garlic.
She wears black for ever
from grief for our father,
her oldest, favourite son
who died in a car crash
late one night
near our home in Athens.

Every day we visit him at the cemetery.
The old priest opens the gate —
his eyes squinty, tired from so much praying
lets us in.

A scarecrow man —
chimney hat, scraggly beard, hair twisted in a bun
dusty black robe faded from the sun,
frayed where it drags on the ground.

He sighs, then stumps up the hill in the too-hot sun
pulling himself along with his walking stick
to the tiny white church
that smells of incense and beeswax.

Yia Yiá pays him to light a candle
and say a prayer.
He tells her for a few cents more
he will light a bigger candle and say a longer prayer —

But she only has a few cents
and we must come back tomorrow.

5 comments

  1. jvandervlugt

    I really enjoyed the poem Our Grandma. I immediately saw a visual image of the grandma and the priest. I could see the heat and the hill. Really enjoyed this poem. Hope to see more from this author.

  2. Sheila Horne

    I love it. Your description of the grandmother reminds me of a Greek woman who lives in my neighbourhood. The only difference the woman in my neighbourhood wears an apron over her black outfit.

  3. Rosemarie Randall

    When I read “Our Grandma” I immediately imagined I was in Greece, although I’ve never been there, thinking of the tiny church, the blue sea (as I envision it visible from the church), and the heat.
    Such a vivid picture of Yia Yia with the “apostrophe” walk and the “scarecrow” priest. Thank you for giving me this glimpse of another far-away life. Your poetry enriches me.

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