Sour Dough

Sour Dough (for my great grandmother, Icie)

Mottled, repulsive
Thin, cotton, flowery day dress
Unable to sway gracefully
Sticking to a body of sweaty
wide hips, plumped stomach
Smelling as balled sour dough
Waiting to be transformed into bread

In her rocking chair, a black Chihuahua
Nestled behind the crook of her back
Causing her to sit forward
so that she walked
as if that dog was ever there

And I, who was a descendant of her wombs
Was made to love her
And I, made to love her
Drawn and repulsed
by a boil of snuff in her lip
eyed foaming brown liquid in a plastic bottle
Brown handkerchief rumpled
on the stand beside her
Was told to love her, and so I tried
As a child could, drawn and offended
By the sight, the odor, brown teeth
Whiskered chin and wrinkled flesh

Twenty years, a chair beside her bed
the broken eagle, neck resting on a fluffed, white pillow
soon to be yellow stained full of grease and drool
felt the importance of being known by her

and I, understanding her time
her losses of children, twice
funerals of sisters and brothers and a husband

and now unable to mend
lay broken

in poverty would not allow
hunger behind the walls
fed strangers with a full heart
gripped children from wombs
washed bodies of the naked dead

Told me, as I perched over her head
as one come invited and
feels the stir for the food beneath their hungry gaze
said 'I've had a hard row to hoe'
with such thankfulness and understanding
that caused me to feel the churning of my blood

the proud, beaked nose of a hawk
gray roiled eyes wrapped in native skin
I, created to love her, live with a crave to smell her soured flesh
kiss the high and haughty Cherokee cheeks above cracked
tobacco lined lips

and to love her at the end of the day

by Eloisa Gearhart

Comments (2)

This is a powerful portrait, without sentimentality. I like the way you have explored your memory's image of your Great-grandmother so particularly. Your work is very strong.
so sweet i miss my grandma so much this is such a nice and sweet poem.. Krista