This poem is part of CavanKerry’s series for National Poetry Month. Every day in April, we post a poem from our community of writers.
the name you called your grandma
became your name for JoJo, Amelia,
Ruby and Benjamin. Knit one row,
turn and purl the next, you showed
them. Impossible to count the lifetime
of sweaters, baby gifts you knit in no-time.
Impossible to count the number
of pregnant teenagers you mothered
for almost three decades at the Corner
Health Center you co-founded, directed.
For them, you ignored days of migraines,
living on ibuprofen to dull your pain.
Who knew then those pills would kill
your kidneys? First your blood pressure
spiked, sending you again and again to the ER.
Three times a week you began dialysis.
For many, this treatment’s miraculous.
Three weeks ago you called, your voice
as always cheerful, chattering joyfully
about our grandchildren, both of us
anxious to see them back on the school bus
in Wisconsin after your daughter’s sabbatical
in Israel. Who would have guessed the radical
change? Two days later, you in the ICU,
fighting four infections. How bitter this adieu!
for Joan Eleanor Schloessinger Chesler
Joan Seliger Sidney is a writer of poetry and children’s books in Storrs, Connecticut. She has written three books of poetry and her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies. Her poems often bear witness to the Holocaust and her experiences with multiple sclerosis.