#tanka publication: “Over the River to Grandmother’s House We Go”

I’m pleased to share that my tanka, Over the River to Grandmother’s House We Go,” has been published in the July 2022 issue of First Literary Review-East.

Like “Candia, New Hampshire, 1926: Velma,” this poem  was published without its companion piece:

Our Other Grandmother

who is this person
never leaves her chair
black maid welcomes us
cooks, tells us funny stories
eats in the kitchen alone

120 thoughts on “#tanka publication: “Over the River to Grandmother’s House We Go”

    1. Thank you, Tracy. I was one flummoxed little five-year-old. Thinking back on it as an adult, I was struck by how difficult it must have been for my mother to answer my question about why Chris wasn’t eating with us.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have a similar memory. When I lived with my Grandmother a black gentleman lived down the alley from us. I often sat with him in his garage while he worked on projects. I would play with his cat. He would give me grape sodas. Whenever he came to my grandmother’s to do odd jobs she paid him in cash and would also give him meals which he ate sitting on our back steps. I asked her why he didn’t sit with us at the kitchen table. She stammered around the explanation but when I chose to eat with him on the porch she joined us. 😊

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    1. Thank you very much, Marian! One of my mother’s friends had a Studbaker sedan that had seen better days. We had to ride with the windows down to avoid being asphixiated by the exhaust coming into the car.

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      1. My grandma bought the one we had. It was in Pepto-Bismol pink. I drove it when I was a teenager and got beaten up for driving a sissy pink car. How times have changed.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Congratulations, Liz. I like both works. We could have passed you somewhere on the road in our station wagon. I remember some trips into the deep South.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats, Liz! I can relate to ‘Our Other Grandmother’ because I had the same circumstance as a child in our household. My father wouldn’t sit at the same table with our black maid, but as soon as he left for work, my mom and I would sit at the table with her and we would have coffee together. My, how times have changed.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Viewing personal history through the lens of today, offers us a fresh perspective on social values of another time. I often wonder what we will think of our time when we view it 10 years from now. Your have captured the essence of looking back with poetic words that inform as well as prompt reflection. Brilliant, as always!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca! For the past couple of years in particular, I’ve often thought about how history will evaluate/judge our world at this moment in time. Not in a postive light, I expect.

      Speaking of history, have you ever read Only Yesterday: An informal history of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen? His approach was to write about that particular era in history immediately following it, to give readers the perspective of “what life was really like,” by providing all those everyday details that get lost in a traditional study of the period.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sorry for the late response, Liz. I have just returned from a 3-day family wedding held out in nature. I have a few mosquito bites but it was lovely. I just found “Only Yesterday” by Frederick Lewis Allen and have downloaded it on my Kindle.

        I especially appreciated these insights found in the preface which speaks to our discussion. We are always limited by our time, personal experience and societal values. Perhaps that is for the best because we write our history at the same time we record past history. “Further research will undoubtably disclose errors and deficiencies in the book and the passage of time will reveal the shortsightedness of many of my judgements and interpretation.”

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  4. Congratulations on the recent publication, Liz. I envy your ability to use old family photos as inspiration. My mother gave her huge box full of old family photos to one of my cousins, and therein lies the heart of the story that I would probably tell.

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  5. Congratulations Liz!!!
    Lovely Tanka. My grandmothers are sweet memories to me.

    My Baba (Polish for Grandmother) was always cooking. Anyone who came to the the front or back door was sat down for a 7 course meal… any time of day.
    She had this thing… she would grab your hand, and find your wrist bone.”You’re so t’in” she’d say, as she dragged you to the kitchen. You could be the fattest person, ever, but she’d find that wrist bone and off to the kitchen you’d go.

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  6. Both pieces are lovely. I like the concept of companion poems and I love how you have captured the strangeness and complexity of your visit to the other grandmother. Do you wonder now if Chris preferred to eat alone? Perhaps it was a time for her to relax and be herself. Our maids ate separately; usually outside on mats in the garden. I think they enjoyed that break time and probably weren’t too happy when we ( the kids) occasionally went and sat with them and pestered them for some of their food. I think where the maids ate in my childhood home probably was influenced to a certain degree by race and segregation issues but the main issue was the proper relationship between employer and employee. I suppose what I learned from my childhood experience was that maids (as with all workers) had rights which included a lunchtime away from us, set hours and decent wages.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Mandy. Looking back, I think Chris probably took eating in the kitchen as just the way it was and didn’t think about it one way or the other. My dad got to know her in the years she worked for his mother, and I remember his telling me that Chris was very, very good to her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s lovely that your father got to know Chris. I think we inevitably do create bonds which are slightly stronger than that of employer and employee if a person works in our home for any length of time. I was totally in love with my first nanny. In fact I think the whole family adored her, including my grandparents.

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