Grandpa, the day you died was a normal day.
I was in the library at school,
And when the voice on the intercom said
Is Marian in this room please?
I thought maybe you were dead.

I walked out and saw my mother
And then I was sure. Then I knew.
I cried right there in the hallway. She said
It's your grandfather.

The white walls started to close in
And then the bell rang, the rush, the din
Like a crazed alarm inside my head that kept sounding
He's dead! He's dead!
And all the kids came out of the rooms
They were everywhere, the walls loomed
And Marshall Troop came up and said
Mizz Kent, Mizz Kent, he's dead! He's dead!
The lockers slammed, kids were screaming
I hoped that I was only dreaming
Kids were yelling
He's dead! He's dead!

I started to fall, and my mother held me
And she said
It's all right. He doesn't have pain anymore.
It's all right.

Grandpa, I hope there's no pain.

I wrote this in high school. It's my first poem, or at least the earliest one of which I still have evidence. I have not edited it except to add italics.

I decided to share this, rough as it is, because today some friends found themselves in the position my mother was in here. How difficult to suffer such a loss and yet be required to be strong for your children. As happens so often, I'm reflecting back on my own childhood memories, thinking about my parents and what the experience might have been like for them.


  1. It's a poignant poem. Tender genius peeks out of the past.
    When I get weepy and upset about my dad, I still feel like the child. I wonder how to walk the fine line of grief and strength in front of my children.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Marian, this is so moving. You will know, as a mom, how you now have to be strong for your kids, as your mom was then, for you.I know a lot about being strong, have had to be very strong, especially for my children, this lifetime, and found I never really got to grieve things properly myself. Which is why when my wolf-pup died, all those old griefs hitchhiked a ride, and those tears had to be shed, finally, too.

    This is a wonderful poem for a youngster to have written. "Grandpa, I hope there's no pain." There isnt, kiddo. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. of course i've had to be strong for them in other ways, but this kind of thing, the death of someone close, has thankfully not happened and with any luck will not for a long time.
      sherry, i so value you and your voice and, well just you. xoxo

  3. This is such an important piece of writing - the honesty of the poetic voice speaks to every heart - we recognize this moment.

    It is also a remarkable piece of juvenilia, in that it avoids sentimentality and conveys the emotion in the confusion of that hallway in stanza three: the repetition becomes the knell. Amazing.

    1. it sure is interesting to read and look at it here. i hadn't forgotten this moment or this poem, but i had to search to find it.
      i thought you might like this, kerry, as it's happening in the school hallways. also my mother was an elementary school teacher, which is why students were greeting her, they knew her. :)

  4. Touching Marian.
    My grandfather raised me, and eventually passed when I was thirteen. He died on my lap in a car accident. Though it was horrific then, it seems poignant now. I'm happy I was there.
    Thanks for making me think of him today.

  5. I've tried to to comment this three times. From my own experience of losing my grandfather in 2006 (i lived with him and took care of him in his final 7 months) and Eden's heartbreaking response, I've just been too wowed to leave anything..

    1) this is brilliant because it's so real

    2) this is the opposite of maudlin or sentimental. It's touching in a spare, unqiue way

    3) I'm crying.

    Thanks for letting me read this.

    1. :) you are too nice. i'm so sorry for all you and your family have been through of late. love, love.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!