On Earlham Drive by Katherine Van Eddy

The dogwood tree
still stands in the front yard
where my grandfather
planted it decades ago
after he dug it
from the woods
behind their house
at the top of Vatican Hill.
As a child one summer
when I ran past that tree
a bee stung
the back of my hand.
My mother eased
the sharp pain
with baking soda
pressed into the pinprick
while I sat at the
kitchen table,
staring at the wallpaper
with green grape bunches
and fruit-filled bowls.

I can still walk
through the house
in my mind,
see stiff green carpet
and golden curtains
in the sitting room.
At the top of the stairs
the first room on the right
my grandfather’s office
with hardwood floor
and room enough
for the electric typewriter
resting on his folding table,
tall metal shelves filled
with books and files,
Catholic magazines
and newspapers
with articles he wrote.
The last time
I saw my grandfather
I had just moved out
of my parents’ house
and he had just moved out
of this one.

Thanksgiving
at his son’s house,
bound to a wheelchair
by then, his wife
lifted from Earth
two years before.
My aunt told me
to wash my hands good
after I touched
his for the last time.
I said I love you
as they wheeled him
out the front door
and I went to
the bathroom sink,
where I scrubbed
with soap the image
of my grandfather
shrunken with age,
his grown children
earlier helping him
in here, not knowing
the decades of questions
I’d never be able to ask him,
like, “Were you born a writer, too?”

Katherine (Kat) Van Eddy is a California-born poet living in Puyallup, Washington with her husband, two young children and a cat. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a master’s in elementary education and taught for three years before staying home to take care of her kids. Her poems have been featured by Creative Colloquy.