Not long ago we were both warriors
in a fortress with a potato-flower coat of arms,
with bean leaves tattooed on our chests.
We put Colorado bugs in small baskets,
picked up snails hiding in tall clover,
pushed them into their shells with a straw,
then threw them over the fence
into a golden raspberry bush.
When it was stormy, Granny would take
a small white bit of candle from the cupboard
and open her greasy Psalm book,
murmuring low until the skies cleared up.
In winter she would wrap my feet in wool
and place them in the oven where she baked sweet potatoes.
Only when it smelled like spring did she seem so sad,
restless, saying she gets smaller year after year,
slowly entering the ground.
One day I was crying. “No Granny, don’t talk like that...”
But her eyes tightened in a thin thread.
Later she began to knock with her walking stick
before each step she was taking,
looking crossly downwards.
There were more and more clouds
gathering behind her eyelids.
Those mites couldn’t have been God’s creatures.
I would cover the earth in front of her.
“You see, Granny, they are not here.”
She would always look aside,
her chin falling as if the wind were slashing her back.
One morning I went away to bring water.
Granny was sleeping with the white candle on the table.
Then I saw for the first time that circle of light
in the icon above her bed.