She was silent in her oldest age,
gray as Ozark flint, and hard.
Emptied of her geologic rage,
she lived with us. An asphalt yard

enclosed the tenement. We slept
and ate bologna on white, puffy bread.
The only things she had, she kept
in two small dresser drawers. One bed

for three of us: Grandma, Mama, me.
The fire in her was out, no smallest ember.
I said, Tell me your childhood, please.
She said, I don’t remember.

She might have given me an art
or trade, but she had neither.
Did I wait for that to offer her
my heart? I don’t remember either.

From Another River: New and Selected Poems (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005) by Pat Schneider. Copyright © 2005 by Pat Schneider. Used with the permission of the Estate of Pat Schneider.