Walking With My Delaware Grandfather Poem

By Denise Low

Walking home I feel a presence following
and realize he is always there

that Native man with coal-black-hair who is
my grandfather. In my first memories

he is present, mostly wordless,
resident in the house where I was born.

My mother shows him the cleft in my chin
identical to his. I am swaddled

and blinking in the kitchen light. So
we are introduced. We never part.

Sometimes I forget he lodges in my house still
the bone-house where my heart beats.

I carry his mother’s framework
a sturdy structure. I learn his birthright.

I hear his mother’s teachings through
what my mother said of her:

She kept a pot of stew on the stove
all day for anyone to eat.

She never went to church but said
you could be a good person anyway.

She fed hoboes during the ‘30s,
her back porch a regular stop-over.

Every person has rights no matter
what color. Be respectful.

This son of hers, my grandfather,
still walks the streets with me.

Some twist of blood and heat still spark
across the time bridge. Here, listen:

Air draws through these lungs made from his.
His blood still pulses through this hand.