Friday 10 February 2023

Two Poems by Jeanne Griggs



When he woke up from a nightmare
or like Han Solo, had “a bad feeling about this”
my father would call to say he’d had a premonition,
adding that his premonitions never came true
but asking about us all the same, just to see,
and in my lifetime he was right, they never came

true although maybe the joking started after his older
brother disappeared, missing in action, never seen
again, like the little old ladies at Kroger
who asked me to reach things on high shelves
because I’m tall; now that it’s Covid time
my order comes out to the car while

I wonder if they’re still inside, reaching. Where is
the nurse who let me pass her first aid station on
the long stairs down to a boat ride under Iguazu falls?
She saw through me, saw that my bravado
and my son’s arm might not be enough
to get me safely back up the stairs in the heat,

letting me go but stopping me on the way back,
pouring a bottle of cold water over my head,
placing a stool and insisting I sit while everyone
in my family waited, leading us all the way back up
those hundreds of stairs, pacing me, sternly,
and then waiting until the truck came, insisting

that the driver must help me up, watching
until I was out of sight, and now
I think of her, although as a health care worker
from Brazil I don’t like her chances unless
me having premonitions that never come true
and thinking of her might improve them.

Home for the Holidays

Signs of you appear unexpectedly, a hidden
note from your 9-year-old self behind
a bookshelf, the weight of a bin
filled with Pokemon cards landing
on my arm when I’m reaching
for a hat on the very top shelf,
purple shampoo on the rim of the tub,
that time you changed all the family
Netflix icons to Dolly Parton,
before we even knew they could change.
We have changed every day, although
we still wear the clothes we wore when
you lived here, whistling the Rohan theme
and secret tunnel song from Avatar,
photographing our cats, arguing a point
with your father, coming out as grey
when you gave up on letting your mother
pick out anything you would wear.
Come back, we take back what we said,
where we went, where we weren’t.
Come back like you did the time
you explained who John Cena is
and why it was funny to shout his name,
or when you were in the kitchen asking
where we keep our cans of water--
they’re right here, on the shelf, beside
all the things you couldn’t reach, back
when I was old enough to know better.
Here you come again, and this time
we’ll try to be better prepared


Jeanne Griggs is a reader, writer, traveler, ailurophile, and violinist who plays with the Knox County Symphony. She directed the writing center at Kenyon College from 1991-2022. Jeanne earned her BA at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and her doctorate at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her conference papers include “A Survey of Reanimation, Resurrection, and Necromancy in Fiction since Frankenstein,” and “Climate Change Predictions in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.” Published by Broadstone Books in 2021, Jeanne’s volume of poetry is entitled Postcard Poems. Jeanne reviews poetry and fiction at



  1. These are lovely, Jeanne, and the National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite museums.

  2. Interesting that these both circle around an image of reaching up for something on a shelf. Very vivid and memorable writing. I love the endings of both.


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