As the end of August draws near and the tomatoes in our garden are beginning to ripen, I’m reminded of Dzidzi, my maternal grandfather. Dzidzi loved his large vegetable garden that was situated behind my grandparents’ house. He so enjoyed bringing me down to his garden to pick tomatoes and peppers and carrots and onions and beets every time I visited during growing season when I was young.
I remember the year Dzidzi died. He was in the hospital at the end of the summer in 1984. He had esophageal cancer. It frustrated Dzidzi so much that he couldn’t tend to his garden. He passed away in late September. I was devastated. I had spent many of my happiest childhood days at my grandparents’ house. Some of my fondest memories are of the times Dzidzi and I picked vegetables in his garden.
I’m posting the following memoir poem from my unpublished collection A Home for the Seasons in memory of my grandfather Michael Kozicki.
My mother and I arrive at my grandparents’ house
late one Sunday afternoon.
Babci greets us in the kitchen
with cold drinks clinking with ice cubes.
Dzidzi fetches a small wooden basket
from the cellar, takes my hand,
and walks me down the stone path to his garden.
He leans over a tomato plant,
holds a fat red globe in his cupped hand,
and looks at me. I nod approval.
I can almost taste the tomato’s warm, juicy flesh.
We choose a dozen more and place them in the basket.
We pick three green, glossy-skinned peppers,
pull up a bunch of feather-topped carrots,
enough beets for my mother to make a pot of zimny barszcz
thickened with sour cream and floating with cucumber slices.
Every visit to my grandparents’ house
is the same this season—
a small harvest of vegetables—
and when we leave, I take home
a little basket of Dzidzi’s garden.
Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday Roundup is at Live. Love. Explore!