SuzAnne C. Cole
I. Christina Sophia Hoelzel Groskinsky 1849- 1937
As September sun ripened grain,
barns brimful with ample harvest,
Great-Grandmother's house emptied.
Four brief lives--ten, eight, six, and two--
buried green before their goldenness.
Battered so, she stayed on
for husband and remaining son;
not only lived but leapt into the abyss
of creation twice more and flew--
another boy, then Carrie, miracle
to mother forty-three, father, fifty-nine.
When this cherished child of her bosom
quieted forever when only eight,
Christina endured like limestone,
dark velvet cloaking shards of a heart
never again trusting life or love.
II. Rose Elizian Bunnell Ripley 1865 - 1958
Gram, married at seventeen,
mother of five, practical nurse,
outlived husband, son, and siblings.
Kept her own house until betrayed
at ninety by brittle bones.
Life narrowing to borrowed room,
living on malted-milk tablets,
quietly she withered, as sweetly
fading as the fragrance of her flower.
III. Mary Edna Ripley Groskinsky 1889 - 1988
Gangrenous leg amputated at ninety-eight,
still she struggled against the dark angel,
declaring herself too wicked to die.
There, there murmured the family,
petting away the nightmares,
remembering the woman who
wrestled laundry in a wringer washer,
canned beans and preserved fruit in
steam-filled summer kitchen,
brought light, flickering kerosene
illuminating endless darning.
Maybe someone should have asked,
Why do you think yourself so wicked?
Struggle between faith of her mothers
and dogma of daughter so tenderly caring,
grateful when the screaming stopped.
SuzAnne C. Cole, former college English instructor, enjoys being a wife, mother, and grandmother, traveling, hiking, and writing from a studio in the Texas Hill Country. She’s been both a juried and featured poet at the Houston Poetry Fest and once won a haiku contest in Japan. She’s also published essays, short fiction, meditations, and plays.