Babcia (Grandmother)

by Doris Fiszer

When she arrived in Canada, my babcia started
chanting Hail Marys on her knees—
the rosary a nightly devotion.
Mornings she prayed to Saint Francis of Assisi—
‘Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.’

Rag in hand, she followed her daughter
who eventually became my mother,
while she dusted, faulting her choices—
curtains, clothes, hair styles,
correcting her posture.

Except for good mornings, good nights,
wishes for health at Christmas and Easter,
Father and Babcia didn’t speak,
To keep the peace he said.

When they forgot they weren’t talking,
words scorched the air.
She had the final say.
“If that’s what you think, then let it be so.”
‘Where there is injury, pardon.’

My babcia cooked blueberry pierogi for my brother
but offered me her life of sorrows—
parents dead from Spanish flu,
a runaway brother, miscarriages,
twin boys that lived a week,
death of her husband.
‘Where there is despair, hope.’

In the last few weeks
I manicured her nails,
applied red polish
warmed her cold hands.

“My heart is beating so hard, you must hear it,” she said.
‘Where there is darkness, light.’

— from Juniper Volume 2, Issue 3