Honor the Aged

You may be saved yet.
Your grandmother's praying.
She's saying to anyone who'll listen:
Throw out the curtains. Stop
coaxing wind down from the trees.
God has no sex.

Don't cut the grass!
she calls after young men with sickles—
wind mates there.
Don't shake the sand from your shoes.
Sand makes water
unfurl its long white wings. Here it comes!

Then she's gone, this grandmother of yours
drifting off in her chair on the boardwalk.

The water and sky turn pink
as the shawl on her legs.
A smile rises and fades, foam.
She's gone off ahead
someplace that scares your father,
that changes our bodies, shocks
the roots of our minds.

Grass, trees, curtains,
the loose board on the stairs—
what hasn't she rummaged?

Tired of church, she says,
angel fossils in old walls.

What she wants to see
is the air itself
burst into wings.

Betsy Sholl lived in Big Stone Gap, Virginia when this poem appeared.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Subscribe