Poetry Porch: Poetry



Four Generations
by Michael Todd Steffen

My great grandmother
Lou Lou Shoemaker
Way back in nineteen-oh-something
More than a hundred
Years ago, in eternity,
On the front porch
Of their farm in western
Nebraska, in a rocking chair
Sat holding her dead son
Erwin, eighteen months old
And already eternal
For being with her
That afternoon at the wash-house.
When her back
Was turned he tipped an open
Bottle of bleach to his lips
And swallowed.

For or despite the pleat
Above her upper lip
It is said the angels sang to her
All that night
As she sat rocking Erwin
Gazing out through prisms
At the star-clustered sky
Over the edge of the prairie.

She kept
Her sanity to raise two daughters
One of whose daughters
Is my mother who told me
The story
And we loved great grandmaís
Slab bacon for breakfast
When we went to visit them
Up to my fourteenth birthday.
Thatís not bad: four generations
Under one roof
Eating breakfast together as the stars
Were shepherded home.
For his good- and lightheartedness
My great grandfather
Only understood he would
Never understand
The intensity from that day
Of his wifeís pale blue eyes
When she would look up
At a migrating V of geese
Or over at the stable
When one of the horses nickered.

He knew in their courting days
His eyes had held
The same look for her, for her only.
Though she stayed bound
To her duty
Ongoing with the farm and life
She would cast that look now
Almost of condemnation
Which is the look
Of hopeless devotion
Everywhere.


Copyright © 2018 by Michael Todd Steffen.