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Hand in Hand

My grandmother, Nannie, died almost thirty years ago but I still tear up at her memory.

At the time she died I had never written much at all, and certainly not attempted poetry, but the urge to express what she meant to me kept surfacing. Her love of God and her insistence that we would all eventually be together again were on my mind as I thought about writing a poem.

Nannie was a second mother to all of her grandchildren, helping our mothers raise us, watch out for us, worry over us and pray for us.

Just after Nannie died I mentioned to a friend that I had a poem in mind, one that kept surfacing when I least expected it. I mentioned how I wished I’d written something for Nannie before she died so she could have read it. My friend had one response.

“Write it for her anyway.”

And so I did.

Some years later that same friend called to let me know her mother died. In discussing what the family intended to do for a service, my friend said she was going to write some things to say about her mother but wished she’d written them while her mother was still alive. I returned the obvious response.

“Write it for her anyway.”

My friend had long forgotten that she’d given me the same suggestion, one that would encourage me to write my first poem. Nannie wasn’t there to read it, but I wrote it for her anyway:

Hand in Hand

You held me tight in times I might
Not have wanted to stand.
A child so young, life just begun,
You there to hold my hand.

Your years flew past, painfully fast,
Sooner than I had planned.
Effort in talking, weakness in walking,
My turn to hold your hand.

But there’ll come a time, both yours and mine
To see wonderful things, so grand.
We’ll meet in that place, a smile on the face
And we’ll hold each other‘s hand.

Stuart M. Perkins

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Honestly Put.

I catch an early morning bus to work from Arlington VA into D.C. each weekday. Generally, I see the same faces riding every morning, each of us zombies of the morning rituals and habits that funnel us to the same vehicle, at the same time, day after day. We read papers, chit-chat with other riders, take quick naps, or pretend to take quick naps so as not to have to chit-chat with other riders.  Primarily the same people, same seats, every day.

One morning, however, in the seat usually occupied by a woman who finds it necessary to read her weekly novel out loud, sat a newcomer. He sat in an aisle seat, the window seat filled with his backpack, a jacket, and what appeared to be one shoe. He leaned forward as much as he could without hitting the seat ahead of him, head in his hands. He would occasionally sit up to look out of the window, glance at the other riders, or stare straight ahead. He talked to himself a little bit, but I could never understand much more than a word or two now and then. He did not appear to be having a good day so far, at that early hour. At most I could hear an occasional sigh, a “Good Lord”, or a curse word now and then.

But towards the end of our commute as we neared the final stop, the man sat bolt upright and loudly and clearly said “Lord, give me Patience today, because if you give me Strength I’m just going to rob that liquor store on the corner of 14th and P.

Now that was an honest, praying man.

Stuart M. Perkins

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