The Shape of Grace

First there was the shade of the tree
over the front steps, taking the sun’s glare
out of our eyes, and when we opened the door

to my grandmother’s house, it was inhaling love,
more than just the smells that came from the back
of the house. The living room we stepped into

was clean and silent and poorly named.
We did all our living in the kitchen.
At least my grandmother and I did.

I quickly made my way to the kitchen,
wanting to get there first. She was peering
into the steam of a boiling copper pot

and when she heard me at the kitchen doorway,
that swinging door always creaked on its hinges,
she set down the wide wooden spoon on its rest.

We met midway, by the marble countertop,
a funny thing to have indoors if you think about it.
She set her hazed-over glasses on that

cool, smooth, rock surface, kissed me once
on the forehead and then enveloped me in her hug.
Then she was flitting out to greet the rest

of my family, but returning to the kitchen
with the grace it deserved. She glanced
at the cuckoo clock by the dining room table,

then turned over the hourglass she used as a timer,
its salt and pepper sands falling, building up
that miniature sand dune that said dinner was ready.

She called me over, saying time for kisses.
My grandmother never called them pinches or dashes.
They were kisses.  That was the shape of her love,

us standing side by side by the old gas stove,
tossing kisses of salt, herbs, and spices
into the family meal. That was what I loved to breathe.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 10 at The Sunday Whirl. I’m very late with this one, writing it just the other day, but I have to write a poem to all of Brenda’s wordles. It’s just a challenge I’ve set for myself.

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18 thoughts on “The Shape of Grace

  1. you painted a lovely picture of welcome and love! Reading this made me smile about the memories we have of grandparents, or other family members, who welcomed us into their heart.
    walk in beauty.

  2. Richard,

    You’re right. A very different kitchen than mine!

    This was such a lovely picture of love and family and home. I read it once…and then twice more. Each time something different striking me in a wistful way. The first time, it was the immediate inhalation of love. The second time…it was the “poorly named” place where LIVING was done. And that third time through, it was “the shape of her love”…and the image in my mind of grandmother and grandchild, side-by-side. Together. Living. Inhaling love.

    Absolutely beautiful, Richard!

    ~Paula

    • Paula, thank you. And thanks for the details. It was enlightening to hear your perspective as a reader and what you noticed on each reading. Thank you so much.

      Richard

  3. Absolutely love that line of tossing kisses of salt, herbs, and spices. It so echoes the images of your poem and creates a luxurious sense of love and belonging. Glad you are back and eagerly look forward to seeing what you come up with for the wordles waiting your distinct touch,

    Elizabeth
    http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

    • Elizabeth, thanks. What I love about the wordles are the unusual juxtaposition of words that they seem to suggest. It makes us look at those words in fresh ways.

      I just posted a poem that I wrote to a prompt at We Write Poems. I have another poem from a wordle for tomorrow. This morning was productive.

      Richard

  4. Oh well! The four commentors before me say it all! Well, almost. What a great title, Richard. And then the entire atmosphere of the kitchen which allows us to live in it too. I am still smiling.

    margo

    • Margo, thanks. Glad it made you smile. Thanks for the mention of the title. I don’t often (if ever) use any of the wordle words in the title, but I did this time.

      Richard

  5. This is wonderful, Richard. You have admirably captured the essence of unconditional love with such artful details — how love touches not only loved ones, but also everything that surrounds it. Very powerful. Assuming this is autobiographical… was your grandmother’s name Grace, by chance? Just curious.

    • Kelly, thank you. Your comment is wonderful, how love touches everything that surrounds it. It is part autobiography with a bit of poetic license. My grandmother’s name is not Grace, but she is a woman of immense grace and love. I’m lucky.

      Richard

  6. I don’t know if you used a single wordle prompt or not, and I don’t care. That is one of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. Your heart was in this one. Time for kisses indeed.

    • Mike, thank you. The fun for me is working the wordle words into the poem in such a way that you don’t know they’re wordle words. They shouldn’t stand out – at least, not in a bad, obvious, notice me kind of way. Yeah, heart’s on my sleeve in this one; no denying it.

      Richard

  7. This moved me, Richard. I have a dresser from my grandmother’s house that has a drawer that is off limits to everyone but me. I do invite children to sit with me when I open it and go through the linens. Why? Because I want to preserve the smell of my grandmother’s house every time I open it. It’s still there. When I die, no one will care, but man I love that smell. Your poem brought my grandmother back in a strong and vibrant way this morning. Thank you for that, and for writing all the wordles. You rock.
    Brenda

    • Brenda, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. I am glad my poem brought up such pleasant memories and associations for you.

      I have not written a poem to Wordle 11 yet. I think it has defeated me.

      Richard

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