A Sonnet For My White Grandmother

Mother of my father I did not know

Sometimes her name escapes my memory

The gray on her head I never saw grow

Picture unrecognized when it I see.

This little brown baby a source of shame

Mirror reflecting, are her eyes my own?

Never to hear her voice calling my name

Her last breath I was fifteen, not yet grown.

Knowing me not did she ever regret?

For regret stakes claim to this broken heart

How to love when there’s nothing to forget?

No time together, nor time spent apart.

One day her hand will surely smooth my hair

For her soul till then I offer my prayer.


thailandchani said…

I suspect she would have been delighted to know you, to watch you grow into the attractive, intelligent woman you are today. The damage done in those times still bites all of us today. It's hard to imagine it now.
Anonymous said…
Racism and Classism has by my mothers mother, my grandmother, has caused UNMEASURABLE pain and separation in my family. Thus I thank you for this poem!
Anonymous said…
That's lovely! I'm sorry she didn't get the opportunity to know you - what a loss for her! People allow the stupidest things to get between them.

(((hug))) You are more valuable than your skin or even your hair.
Liz Dwyer said…
It does still bite. She died too young so I'll never know if she would've changed her mind and come around as she got older. I imagine she must be blessing me in some way and I certainly pray for her.

Thanks for sharing that. It does still happen, more than we all care to admit and the pain such disunity causes in families is horrible.

I'm sorry too and thank you for the hug. There's a lot of questions I have that I would've liked to ask her. And I the lack of relationship with my dad hurt him so much. It is a quite painful thing.
Jen said…
Oh, Liz, how tragic. I'm sorrier for her loss than for yours, in the sense that she was clearly a person who needed to grow beyond her narrow vision, and she missed out on the wonder that is you.

When my grandmother entered her last year or so, dementia hit. At that point some of her earlier feelings about Jews came out (I sat there as she went into a diatribe about her Jewish roommate), and that was a shocker (Dad was Jewish and I had been brought up split down the middle), but she'd always been loving and supportive to me and my dad to our faces, and had worked on various civil projects to defeat racism, etc., so it was a completely different situation.
Haute in LA said…
Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. And I know how deep one has to go to pen such a piece. Writing is always such a journey.

Thanks for sharing this with us.
Miriam said…
That was a very sensitive poem. I think things like that should be published for the next "grandmother" who puts herself in that sorry position of not recognizing a child simply because of a color.

Its a bit upsetting. lol.

Folks (grandmothers especially) need to have some true love in their hearts. What? She couldn't deal? ok. I better stop. lol
Liz Dwyer said…
There's a lot of questions I have about what went down. I know I met her at least once because while looking through some old pictures I found one of toddler me with a woman I didn't recognize and my mom told me it was my grandmother. Before that, I hadn't realized we'd even met. That must have been so hard to hear your grandmother say those things, especially in her last days.

Thanks for reading and commenting on it. She's been on my mind quite a bit lately. I'm not sure why though.

I wish I knew more about what went down. My parents don't really talk about it, but I know my dad's parents did not attend my parent's wedding and I don't know much else. I sometimes empathize with my grandmother though because she was a product of her time and some people were clearly more receptive to interracial relationships than others.

I remember when my uncle called to say that she died. My father was so upset and I felt like I should cry too, and I did a little, but I didn't know her so I was only crying for an idea of a grandmother, for the sense of there being no hope at all for reconciliation, at least not in this earthly existence.
Jameil said…
man that sucks.
Liz Dwyer said…
Yeah, it does, doesn't it?
Tafari said…
Sadly beautiful!

Liz Dwyer said…
Thanks. It's sad but it makes me even more determined to just open my heart to whoever my sons bring home. I never want them to feel this way, never want my own grandkids to feel this way.
Miss Awesome said…
Why would she be in an interracial relationship if she was going to be ashamed by the child it produced?


But still, a beautiful poem.

Popular Posts