Those boughs stay green from which began
    Garlands of flesh: my Gran, who spread
    Twelve babies in her double bed
As one might open a fan,

While constant in baptismal black,
    Of every blessing, pound by pound,
    In this bouncing Bible goatskin-bound,
My grandfather kept track.

They died in hopes of early rise.
    In Scripture’s sheets their faces slept
    Where Jacob’s pinned-down angel kept
Watch by their couch with steelcut eyes

Through ninety winters, buried deep
    Till now. Their glances, crisp as sage,
    Rise from their good book’s crumbling page,
Pressed fern fronds someone wished to keep.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 1, on page 72
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