preparatory nostalgia for someone still here
By Lena DiBiasio
This poem encapsulates, for me at least, the painful feeling of loved ones growing old. It also conveys the struggle of watching a grandparent with Parkinson’s diminish as the years go by.
supple fingers dance through graying hair,
holding onto fleeting memories, salt and pepper strands
i don’t think i am ready for you to leave,
or even ready to think about you leaving like you want me to
butter pats melt on ant covered counters as
gentle rays stream through dirty windows near your birdfeeder
your daughter cried and my consolations were empty and filled with nothing
but now i am wearing your raincoat, swallowing me in all of its yellowness
please don’t leave me today,
despite the impossibility, you promised you would never go
so i hold your hand. i wrote a poem about you and i called your hands leathery
but you laughed and told me they were crepy, so i changed it
just to see your crooked-toothed smile
newspaper articles cut meticulously in a lena shape, thinking of me
you can give me soup and be the mother
i never had and i will cherish you, my very own pepita seed
you walked 500 steps that day and now
your feet are stuck with molasses to the hardwood, unmoving
late night science lectures arm in arm but
today you can barely keep your eyes open at dinner
so i will hold your hand,
your crepy hand,
and as long as the warm pads of your fingertips rest on mine,
you will never leave me.
I was inspired by my grandfather, who is one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met but is declining with age and illness. The crazy thing about this poem is that the day after I wrote it, my grandfather was rushed to the hospital because of sepsis, which I had no way of knowing would happen before I wrote the piece. Though he’s back to normal now—normal these days for him, so different from normal when I was a child—it’s tough to cope with. My grandmother was also an inspiration, because of our close bond and connection. The idea that she may not be here to talk with me one day is one that I’ve had a hard time dealing with since a young age, and I tried to express that sentiment in my poem.
Lena DiBiasio is an aspiring writer attending high school in New York City. She has been writing since the ripe young age of eight years old and her love for the craft has not diminished since. She won silver and gold National Scholastic Awards in 2019 and received a silver regional Scholastic award in both 2020 and 2021.