for my grandfather
He sees himself a young man again
bent over his embroidery shop table
sketching petals, stems, leaves
on swatches of satin, chenille
to be stitched with sequins and pearls.
The sewing machines are humming,
or could it be honeybees buzzing?
Then he hears the soft soprano of women
singing I’ll Be Seeing You as they sew.
But there is no music now.
Only scraps of fabric, pins, beads, spools
of thread rattling around in his head,
the Singers click-clacking. Nothing
makes sense anymore—
the metal-railed bed, windowless room,
faint shuffle of slippers in the hall.
If only he could go outside, see slits of sun
through cloud-covered eyes.
At night, white floaters swirl madly
above his bed. Some fall in his hand,
soft and feathery as fresh snow.
The drifts pile high against
shingles of his old house
with weathered wood shutters,
driveway cracked down the middle,
swing dangling from an oak.
He walks in dusty sunlight to the front porch.
A woman appears in a red satin gown
embroidered with white pearl lilies.
Her arms open for him like petals.
Andrea Livingston’s recent poems have appeared in The MacGuffin, Rust+Moth, the 2020 Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Sky Island Journal, Rise Up Review, and elsewhere. Her poem “Paper Cranes” received honorable mention in the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Poetry Contest of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a public policy editor and writer. You can find her on Twitter @ms_aka2.