"The Yarns of My Youth"
When I was growing up, I stayed
with my mother's parents during
the day while my parents were working.
My grandparents told me endless stories;
they told me the tall tales of the old west,
the antics of shanty Irish and lace-curtain Irish,
and the adventures of the moonshiners.
My grandmother crocheted rainbow yarn
into warm slippers for all of us, and
my grandfather glued it onto tool handles
to improve the smooth-worn grip.
These are the yarns of my youth.
I would listen to my grandfather's stories
of fixing trucks and marching in the war.
I would listen to my grandmother's stories
of milking cows and gathering eggs.
My grandmother sewed clothes that
could survive me romping in the grass.
My grandfather showed me how the threads
of a screw matched the ones on a bolt.
These are the threads of my life.
My grandmother whispered to me about
our Cherokee ancestors, gone but not forgotten.
My grandfather handed down figments, like bits of lint,
reaching back to a valley in Switzerland.
My grandmother taught me cat's cradle
and how to buzz a button on a string.
My grandfather taught me to tie knots
and what could be fixed by a bit of twine.
These are the strings of my heart.
So many ancestors, so many stories,
twisted into me like fibers that
grow stronger at every turn.