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Talking to My Four-year-old Great Grandson on the Landline
Sharon Waller Knutson


Maw Maw, what you doin'?
I'm talking to you. What
are you doing?
I ask.
He answers a question
with a question:
Are you comin' over?
My granddaughter explains
I am a different grandmother,
the one who lives in Arizona.
Maw Maw, what are you
doin' in Arizona? I live there,

I say. Why? he asks. It's warm.
Are you playin' with the cats?
he asks. Wrong grandma.
I have cows in my yard, I say.
Why? he asks. Because
I live in an open range.
he asks. I remember
his mother at his age
telling me, I see your
porch light is on,

as she points to a star.
I know where
you live. In the sky.
I saw the plane
take you there.

So I know it is pointless
to try to explain to a four-
year-old which grandma
is which and which grandma
lives where so I just tell him,
I will be there soon,
and he is satisfied.

From What the Clairvoyant Doesn't Say (Kelsay Books, 2021).
Used here with permission.


Sharon Waller Knutson lives in a house her husband, Albert, built out of clay from the land on a dirt road in the middle of a wildlife habitat and open range of the Arizona desert. A retired journalist, she writes poetry for readers who don’t normally read poetry. In 2014, Sharon sold her chapbook, My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields, to winter visitors from all over the world in a café where her husband played guitar and sang country music. Her customers told her they expected her to publish a new poetry book when they returned each year so, in 2015, she published Desert Directions, about her life in the desert. In 2016, she published They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur, poems about her customers and other seniors in her life who started new careers, businesses, and relationships after they retired. In 2017, she published I Did it Anyway, poems about how she broke the glass ceiling in the newspaper business in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when women were typically relegated to the society pages. Many more books followed, and now Sharon maintains an entertaining blog called Storyteller Poetry Review. Sharon and Albert (now retired from his music gig) stay busy raising assorted critters and enjoying their 11 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.


Post New Comment:
Stephen Anderson:
Youve very well captured the phenomenon of the overwhelming, insatiable curiosity of our grandchildren that is part of a grandparents rite of passage. Nicely done, Sharon!
Posted 09/14/2021 09:33 AM
Lori Levy:
Love how your great-grandson thinks you live in the sky.
Posted 09/13/2021 03:43 PM
Love that porch light.
Posted 09/13/2021 10:56 AM
Larry Schug:
Astute comment, Kevin, to a well-crafted poem, Sharon. I like poems that ask questions.
Posted 09/13/2021 09:47 AM
Oh that reminds me of dealing with dementia, so I guess white lies are called for at both ends of the age spectrum.
Posted 09/13/2021 09:40 AM
So fun!
Posted 09/13/2021 06:21 AM

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