O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Ameican Life In Poetry


November 7, 2019

We've published several poems by Washington, D.C., poet Judith Harris, who writes beautifully about her Jewish heritage. Bruno Bettelheim, writing about fairy tales, remarked on the closeness of the relationships between young children and elderly people, and this poem touches upon that. Harris's most recent book is Night Garden, from Tiger Bark Press.

Grandmother Portrait

Here's a small gray woman

in an enormous beaver coat

standing at the end of the curb

of a street in Brooklyn, her strapped heel

about to be lowered to asphalt.

I'm strolling beside her carrying a sack,

the sidewalk shaded by cranked out aw


butchers, bakeries, shoe repair shops

the smell of rotting eggs,

as we climb up to her sixth floor apartment

with its plastic slip-covered chairs,

the long chain for a toilet flusher,

pocks in the plaster ceiling.

She is my Romanian grandmother

who speaks little English,

but taught me to crochet,

now lost among the broken headstones

of the old gated Jewish cemetery

we passed by that day

after buying our milk and our bread.

We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Judith Harris, "Grandmother Portrait." Poem reprinted by permission of Judith Harris. Introduction copyright @2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


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