Runs in the Family
An appliqued red apple in the corner
of the scarf caught my eye.
The scarf covered the scratched
walnut finish of the pie-cooler that
was Grandma Lizzie’s hand-me-down
from her mother. The apple looked
good enough to eat.
“How do you write poetry?” Grandma
asked, the spring I visited her in the Ozarks
when dogwood blossoms appeared
like snow across the hillside.
“Oh,” I began, wondering how
serious she was. “I start with a word,
or phrase maybe–” I stammered.
“Then I persist until something
clicks and sentences tumble out, as
though they’ve broken free from a
locked cell. They land on the page–”
“As gently as the baby quail
you found?” she asked.
The baby quail! Orphaned, it had
come running to me, hungry and thirsty.
I gave it too much water, and it died.
“Yes, Grandma. Like the baby quail.”
Poems, too, need the right amount of words,
or they die.
“But tell me, Grandma, how did you make
the apple look so real?”
© 2013 Freeda Baker Nichols