Great-Grandma Maggie Ballard
You are the one she still talks about
with grandchild awe, quotes your wisdom
chapter and verse about the size of John Brown’s
barn and the kitty that got no milk.
But this is all she will say.
She doesn’t tell me about great-granddad
Harris who gave you his name or the family
you entered and held together with spit
and polish and the force of your kindness.
These things I learned from older
cousins twice removed.
They recall your tack-sharp mind
and how you never met a hurdle or wall
you couldn’t jump or scale without losing
your steady breath or frowning your smile.
They tell me I am you incarnate, have told her this
for years and years, but this she keeps to herself.
Once she gave me a pillow with a photo
of your daughter’s distant face,
and I wondered if it was like yours, if
it would have tendered in its old age.
I know less about grandmother than I do about you.
All of her pictures you are gone, says my father
threw them out in one of his basement-cleaning binges,
but he’s dead now and she won’t tell me why
she kept them down there in the first place.
~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013