Saturday, 23 February 2019


by Robbi Nester

One hand on the bannister,
at six, I didn’t know
my grandfather,
in faraway South Africa,
would never visit again.

my mother held an open
aerogram, cried out,
“He’s gone!”
She wept, and I couldn’t
understand why.

He had arrived
two years ago
with his bags full of gifts—
a short, round man
clutching a giant doll,
with China-blue eyes—
for me!

In his pockets, he carried
two unset diamonds
for my mother.
He said the doll distracted
the customs people,
kept them from asking
what he had in his pockets.

My mother asked,
“Why aren’t you crying?”
“He was your grandfather!”
her white face hurt and angry.
I tried to squeeze a few
hot tears out of the corners
of my eyes, imagining
the saddest things I could,
but no tears came.

For me, he was already gone.
I couldn’t fathom
words like “never”
or “forever.” So I didn’t cry,
though my mother’s tears
scared me, and her red
mouth, open as a wound.

* * * * *

"1959" is part of Robbi Nesters new collection Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019).

Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry: a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections, including A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014); Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017); and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited two anthologies—The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an Ekphrastic e-book, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees--celebrating the photography of Beth Moon (published as an issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal).

1 comment:

  1. The memories through a child's eyes, still struggling for comprehension, come together abruptly in this one encompassing flash: "her red mouth, open as a wound."