I clean my grandmother’s bread knife
She used to make pepperoni bread
Sliced it so artfully

A year and a half ago, blood covered her brain
And she slipped away from us
She was
So active
So agile
And one day, gone
Her hands cupped over foam arm rests
Fingers that used to sew and dig
Useless and doll-like
And though I smile when I look at her
I am biting my tongue to not cry

She was my hero
And I never knew it
Until she was gone
She was impervious to all things
With honesty that made some uncomfortable
“Don’t particularly care for that”
She would say, regarding unwanted Christmas gifts
I didn’t know I wanted to be her until she became
This stoic shell of her former self
I didn’t understand that honesty, hard work and craftsmanship
Were anything of value
I was young and desired only novelty
Things like that we hovering
Just a few feet above my understanding

I mourn my unborn children’s loss
To never know such an exquisite woman
Such a pillar of love and farm-toughness
I stand in the kitchen
And clean her knife
So carefully

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