Friday, September 15, 2017

SUMMER RITUAL: A Poem about My Maternal Grandfather

My maternal grandfather with (L to R) my Great Aunt Agnes, my Aunt Helen, and my maternal grandmother.




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.


September is my favorite month. I love the weather here in New England at this time of year. We still have warm days--usually without the summer humidity. Nights are cooler and comfortable for sleeping.

This month  brings to mind my Dzidzi--my maternal grandfather. He passed away in late September of 1984. It was the first real loss of a beloved family member that I suffered. It was traumatic for me.
Dzidzi with my father

Dzidzi was a Polish immigrant...a peasant from the Old Country. For many years, he worked at a leather factory in Peabody, Massachusetts, which is known as the Tanner City. He also worked in his garden behind his house. He grew many different kinds of vegetables--including onions, peppers, carrots, and beets. He cared for his fruit trees (apple, pear, and plum). His cherry tree was felled by a hurricane in the 1950s. He LOVED tending to his garden almost as much as he loved his family--and he loved sharing the food he grew in it.

Babci and Dzidzi with my older sister
My poem Summer Ritual is a remembrance of the times I'd visit my maternal grandparents in summer and early fall--and return home with a bounty of fresh-picked vegetables and fruit from Dzidzi's garden.


A few weeks ago, I posted a poem about my maternal grandmother titled CROCHETING.


Michelle has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Today's Little Ditty.