Elaine Reardon, Featured, Poetry

Nan

by Elaine Reardon

In Cambridge it’s snowing softly, and Nan
sets the table for Sunday supper. She reaches
into the fridge for butter, cold slices of ham,

a jar of pigs feet. We crowd chairs around the
table. I sit on Mum’s lap with a slice of bread,
butter, ham. Not food I’m used to. Mum and I

are quiet. I wonder who was here earlier for dinner,
why we only come for leftovers, late in the day.
My older Irish cousins show me how to play games

I don’t know yet, and Nan hands me a rectangular tin
with two handles. She says for you, a lunchbox.
I wonder at it. It’s very small, and I have a Roy Roger’s

lunch box at home. She doesn’t know what I have there,
where I live with my Armenian grandmother, where
we speak another language, where dad whispers to me

in Irish, sings lullabies and tells me stories at bedtime.
I’m not used to having extra anything, and I’m doubtful
of this gift. She offers you can use it to pick blueberries.

When summer comes we pile into our car, pick up Nan,
my cousins, and Aunt Maureen to pick berries in Stoughton.
We walk along the dead end road, run in Paul’s sheep field,

slip past the fence to Glen Echo Lake. We have purple lips
and tongues. This is a day of heaven, swimming, and comfort.
Wild blueberries plonk on the bottom of my special tin.

 

This poem appears in Elaine’s chapbook, Look Behind You, published by Flutter Press, fall 2019