After School

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I find myself thinking about my grandmother at this time of year, as her birthday approaches. It is bittersweet, because I missed her last birthday, the one she walked to the grocery store to buy the ingredients and baked the pies for herself. I had been away from home for five months already, working in London, and was backpacking through Europe. I remember calling home from a pay phone in Amsterdam to wish her a happy birthday. This #throwbackthursday poem is about the next spring and early summer, when I was living in her house and working at the local library.

This poem was previously published in Home and Away: Alberta’s Finest Poets Muse on the Meaning Of Home, a poetry anthology I co-edited with Dymphny Dronyk.


After School

on special days I walked
past the yellow buses
waved to friends
in number seventeen
that usually took me home

at the end of the lane
I crossed the street
continued past Mrs. Hertz’s place
with its jungle garden
kittens playing tigers
and down the block
to Grandma’s house

inside her warm kitchen
I sat at the table
drank hot chocolate
ate fresh cinnamon buns

then our lesson
knitting needles clicked
while she told stories
to the rhythm
of knit one purl one
stopping only
to untangle my yarn
or the twists in her plot

fifteen years later
I walk the same walk
after school ends
and my students have gone home

past Mrs. Hertz’s house
now empty
her twenty-two year old cat
put down after a neighbour
found the woman dead

when I open the back door
of my grandmother’s house
there are no buns
and the kitchen is cold

I eat my supper
warmed in the microwave
among her things
now strange to me
sorted into piles
to give away

no lesson except
her knitting needles
in a basket
with the yarn

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