In keeping with Wisdom Wednesdays written by me, I have one last to add. This was written in 1978 when I was living on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. My great-great-grandparents were the first of my family to settle there. I was fortunate to spend a lot of my childhood on the beach with my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. Grandma taught me how to swim and grandpa taught me how to row.
Grandpa ran a tug, back in the days when there were still log booms on the bay. He also repaired boat engines and sold gas from his gasoline dock. He delivered papers around the island every morning.
Grandma was a painter and song writer and, actually, a naturalist. I remember once when I was little, walking behind her on the beach. Unbeknownst to her, I was gathering white jelly fish in her wake, lining them up on the logs because they sparkled in the sun and I thought they were pretty. When grandma realized what I was doing she explained to me that they were living creatures and I was making them suffer. She helped me, carefully, carry each one back to the bay, gradually sprinkling water on them before setting them back into the bay so their systems wouldn’t be shocked. She told me all creatures deserve kindness and respect. I never forgot that lesson.
I wrote this poem for them. It was published in a little anthology about island life called The Islanders which was edited by Don Berry.
My grandpa used to own this beach;
his newspapers and ford and
his gasoline dock.
He smelled like boats and books
and log booms.
He had quiet cold winters here with grandma.
They were a simple folk, hardly
I’ll always remember grandma’s
coal fires and her dried roses,
and drawers full of coconut cookies.
Their house was gold and umber
to a little girl, and frightening
and protected and enchanted.
The sand gritted the carpets, dust
covered the flowers, and they
loved each other so much.
But now they’re gone–
their house, the sheds, the docks,
the chickens, and the roses.
But I am here
and I remember.