Grandma's Invitation


by Julene Waffle

“I can read a newspaper by the moonlight tonight,”
she said, looking out the window above the kitchen sink.
I knew it as a brief invitation,
scratched quickly on air,
to sit and watch the interstitial moments
of deep dusk turned night.

Moon-shadows dripped from tree branches
like honey-glaze on fresh-baked biscuits,
and breezes carried crushed fern and summer tree
musk down the mountain on their backs.

Under wind-tousled hair, we held our breaths
as nocturnal shadows danced and
jumped from tree to tree,
memories of midnight dreams.

Peepers chirruped their love songs;
their lovers answered flirtatiously.
Bats swooped silently for insect supper,
and evening birds tittered and whispered,
buttoning the last vestiges of day to close.

On nights like this, we’d sit on the porch
amidst unfinished chores and stories untold
in thin night dresses and slippers, ready for sleep,
willing witnesses, yet bed and pillow
insufficient temptations.

Together,
we’d sit and listen
in our own silences.

Eyes closed, she’d soak in the damp of
night and heart-whisper her
own love songs and dreams and memories.
Sometimes her lips would curl, flatten, or oh,
forming thoughts on air
but uttering  no sound.
Her white hair brushed out and standing on end,
a crown of wisdom or a cloud of doubt,
I didn’t know which.  

And me, afraid to listen, afraid to not,
I’d watch her, hoping to learn something,
but I couldn't tell what
except to say I wish I had asked.

© Julene Waffle. All rights reserved.

Julene Waffle is a mother of three boys and a secondary English Teacher for over 20 years in a small rural upstate New York school. Her love of language was perpetuated at Hartwick College and Binghamton University. Her poetry, speaking to the everyday people of her everyday life, is widely published.

  • We have stories / as old as the great seas / breaking through the chest / flying out the mouth, / noisy tongues that once were silenced, /all the oceans we contain / coming to light. —Linda Hogan

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