MINNIE REMEMBERS


MINNIE  REMEMBERS


God, my hands are old.
I’ve never said that out loud before,
but they are.
I was so proud of them once.
They were soft
like the velvet smoothness of a firm, ripe peach.
Now the softness is more like worn-out sheets
or withered leaves.
When did these slender, graceful hands
become gnarled, shrunken claws?
When, God?
They lie here in my lap,
naked reminders of this body
that has served me too well.

How long has it been since someone touched me?
Twenty years?
Twenty years I’ve been a widow;
Respected
Smiled at,
But never touched.
Never held so close that loneliness
was blotted out.

I remember how my mother used to hold me, God.
When I was hurt in spirit or in flesh,
she would gather me close,
stroke my silky hair
and caress my back with her warm hands.
O God, I’m so lonely!

I remember the first boy who ever kissed me.
We were both so new at that.
The taste of young lips and popcorn,
the feeling inside of mysteries to come.

I remember Hank and the babies.
How else can I remember them but together?
Out of the fumbling, awkward attempts of new lovers

came the babies.
And as they grew, so did our love.
And God, Hank didn’t seem to mind
if my body thickened and faded a little.
He still loved it and touched it.
and we didn’t mind if we were no longer beautiful.
And the children hugged me a lot.
O God, I’m lonely.

God, why didn’t we raise the kids to be silly
and affectionate
as well as dignified and proper?

You see, they do their duty.
They drive up in their fine cars.
They come to my room and pay their respects.
They chatter brightly and reminisce.
But they don’t touch me.
They call me “Mom”
or “Mother”
or “Grandma”.

Never Minnie.
My mother called me Minnie.
So did my friends.
Hank called me Minnie, too.
But they’re gone now,
And so is Minnie.
Only Grandma is here.
And God, she’s lonely!

c.1974/ from SPLINTERS OF LIGHT by Donna Swanson

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About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
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49 Responses to MINNIE REMEMBERS

  1. wolfsrosebud says:

    OK… I want to cry. Insightful, touching, and beautiful.

    • dswan2 says:

      You three have reacted the same way thousands of others have to this poem. Since it was first published in 1974 it has been reprinted hundreds of times, made into a documentary film which won a Golden Eagle award for screen-writing and I still get requests for reprints. Sometimes you get lucky. Thanks for the kind words!

  2. birchtreepastor says:

    A very moving poem. You give voice to those who are often forgotten or overlooked. My mother was widowed two years ago. I think I learned something reading this today. Thank you very much for sharing this.

  3. Mihir Vatsa says:

    It was so touching and at the same time honest and true. The ideas of female sexuality, body and thoughts have been brought up quite well.

    Cheers!

  4. Alive aLwaYs says:

    That’s heavenly!
    Don’t worry, your lively poem will always keep alive “Minnie”, xoxo

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you, Harish, I wrote Minnie when I was 38 and my hands were smooth like a firm, ripe peach. Now they have become Minnie’s hands.

  5. BEEE – UUUU – TEEEEE – FULLLL!!!!! My highest mark!

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you, Henry! I went back to your webpage and that gorgeous tree welcomed me once again! I hope it grows where you can enjoy it often!

  6. very beautiful and very moving

  7. A real stir of the emotions.

  8. genebrother says:

    I know what you are missing because I touch and give to my lovely lady and wife of 52 years all that your are missing. I will refuse to pass as long as my lovely lady and wife of 52 years is with me as she must not share your loss.

    A big electronic HUG for you from ME.

    Genebrother

  9. Andy says:

    You definitely tugged at my heartstrings with this one.

    A simple touch can be so reassuring.

    I come from a family of huggers, so it’s not something unusual for me.

    Smiling…listen to Uncle Andy, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m sending you lots of hugs and squeezes here…can you feel me, Minne?

  10. Jingle says:

    very moving and lovely expressions.
    well penned.

    have fun.

  11. thingy says:

    Yeah, I’m in tears. Wow. Truly emotional.

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you all. I am not Minnie but I knew her; my grandmother. She lived with us for the last years of her life, but I took her for granted, like we all do. It was only after I married and had children that I really knew her. She was remarkable.

  12. Walt says:

    The heart in this poem is expressed with every wish and desire reaching out to be held. It is finely crafted and touches deeply. Exceptional piece, Donna.

  13. Raivenne says:

    Heavens woman! My hearts rends reading this!

    I know this desire all too well. I lived this ache, this need from my own widowhood and your beautiful words ring so heartbreaking and so very true.

    • dswan2 says:

      Ah, Raivenne, from my travels over the Midwest to give programs and concerts, I know there are many who share your pain. Many have said the poem made them aware of the hunger in the ones they care for.

  14. Iwrite4u says:

    well written poem 🙂

  15. Leo says:

    A remarkable poem, truly brings out the emotion.. She must have been a fine lady, strong and willed..

  16. What a great depiction of the journey of life. We truly change and become something new as we grow old. The phases of this life move right along, and often leave us lonely…

  17. LoLa says:

    I often feel the same way. I feel young and then I look at my hands and I see my age in them the most.
    Wonderful poem.
    Thank you
    LoLa

  18. clariice says:

    My heart went out to Minnie. A lovely poem depicting a thousand pictures over the years.
    Great work!

  19. This poem is beautiful and touching I loved it.

  20. blitzken says:

    Clearly well written,
    Descriptive of our different stages,
    How do we grow, adapt, and change,
    As our life turns its pages,
    Inside we remain the same,
    While outside each of us ages.

    Wonderfully moving piece. Thanks for sharing it!

  21. Sam says:

    What a heart touching poem… I love the sincere emotions that unveil themselves through your words.

  22. Paulami says:

    it says what others have evoked through the comments.. i have no more to say… good one

  23. Jess says:

    So sad. You did a lovely job conveying the loneliness and the sadness. Beautiful piece

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you, Jess,
      Minnie is a sad poem but it has probably done more to bring attention to that loneliness than anything I’ve done.

  24. Julie Laing says:

    Lovely imagery in the beginning, and painfully true sentiments toward the end. As a daughter and grand-daughter, I hope I can always soften the dignified with the silly. Thanks for sharing this one for the rally!

  25. So beautiful and so sad. My heart aches for this woman. It is a wonderfully written piece that can evoke such emotion. Thank you for sharing.

  26. that was so sad! 😦
    I am a hugger and a kisser. I even hug my patients 🙂 well the nice ones and the ones who come across as lonely 😦
    Thanks for sharing this touching piece and enjoy the rally!

    http://lynnaima.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/rest/

  27. danroberson says:

    Where do you go when you are mentally young, remembering all the days of your youth, but unwilling to recognize that stranger in the mirror, that person who is seen by others? As generations pass, you step forward, closer to the edge, waiting for your time to come. During that time your heart and emotions still function, and if you are all alone, still lonely. Your poem draws out many feelings and thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Mr Blaque says:

    I loved this poem, 🙂

  29. Becca Givens says:

    Oh Donna – this is so touching … its message is eye opening and tender. Makes me think of my grandmother – I wonder if she felt the same. I am so sorry if she did! Thank you for sharing Minnie with us!!

  30. Thank you, Becca. Minnie was a big part of my life but I did not truly know her until long after she had gone home. I truly believe her prayers for that stubborn little girl who read to a blind grandmother from the King James Bible, were answered

  31. Wow, Minnie…..in a very tender and vulnerable frame you have captured a poignant female phenomena, and that is how much we choose to nurture others above and beyond ourselves and where that leaves many of us when we are older and they are gone. A most beautiful poem.

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you, Cindy. I’m still not sure how I managed to capture 80-year-old- Minnie when I was in my mid thirties. Later in therapy I decided I was writing out a need to be touched at any age.

  32. This is heartbreaking, and I’m impressed how you manage to convey an older woman’s feelings so, so well. I think many of us feel the fears you write about. As a young woman, I perhaps don’t understand them, but your words are wonderfully evocative.

  33. Stephanie says:

    So lovely and genuine. This is a touching poem.

  34. How heartbreaking…I don’t know what else to say, I really feel teary…beautifully written.

  35. Wow, honestly one of the best I’ve read. Loved the worn-out sheets, the young lips and popcorn.

  36. Paul says:

    Beautifully written, sometimes so hard to see or to accept that we are alone, or to even see that we are not. Emotive words thank you.

  37. Debra Sandford says:

    Donna,
    I am a psychologist in Adelaide Australia. I first came across your moving and poignant poem over 20 years ago whilst studying Reiki (healing through touch). The words and more importantly the sentiments stayed in my heart after. I could identify with it when I looked at my own dear grandmother (now passed). I hugged her often in those last years. It did us both good.
    Now, as I practice and talk to my clients young and old, I often refer to your poem to highlight the essentialness of touch and feeling loved. It always hits the mark. I gave a copy only today to a woman who is struggling to understand her cranky older mother. We discussed how lonely her world must be… Your poem changes lives… Minnies legacy lives on.
    Thankyou for creating such a powerful piece.

  38. Beth Glass says:

    Donna, I had reason to do a search for Minnie Remembers tonight and was pleasantly surprised to find it so easily. I first read it in the 1970s in a small book of poetry and prose published by the Upper Room. I still have the book although I can’t remember its title right now. The poem has stayed with me all these years, and I’m glad at last in my own later years to be able to thank you for capturing the essence of growing old alone.

    • dswan2 says:

      Thank you, Beth,
      Minnie has touched many lives and was the poem that opened many doors for me in the publishing world. I did not become a well-known author, except for this piece, but my words have touched a few others. The story of Minnie, my grandmother, is told in my autobiography, With Heart Divided which is available from Amazon and other book stores. Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch with me. If you would like to read more of my poetry and prose you may visit one of my three blogs, http://www.Mindsinger.com, http://www.aechoesfromtheheartland.com or http://www.Grannytales.com
      Blessings,
      Donna Swanson

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