A Salute to Grandmothers

Grandmothers, O grandmothers

Flocking in pairs to the bingo halls

Flocking in pairs to the shopping malls

Flocking in pairs to the city hall

Nonna, abuela, babushka,

You are knowing, you are wise.


Fanciful grandmothers in fox

Fur coats, dripping diamonds

(such dreadful fakes!)

Dietrich eyebrows

Fussing over French lace and poodles in pink

Bow, gossiping between snatches

Of chatter

About another one’s beau


Raging grandmothers in camouflage

Shouting themselves hoarse

Dancing the can-can for Walbran

And showing far too much leg, of course!


Grandmothers in Nikes,

Doing the rounds of the discount stores

In stretch pants stretching

Their pensions as far as they will go

Then blowing the milk money on Lotto Ontario

Clipping cruises for Tokyo

Cuz somebody always wins dontcha know


Grandmothers matching powder puffs

Swapping perukes, swapping stories

About other grandmothers (clinking teaspoons

In time, measured time, defeating chins time,

Teaspoons gleaming with polish

Against porcelain blue like eyes


That still flash for the quadragenerian suitor

That still dares

To sail on the unpredictable seas

Of a woman’s typhoons, doldrums, and storms

And sirocco winds

Sailing off into a Tijuana sunset on a dream

In a jalopy

In leopard skin maybe an andante an

Opera a fool’s parade, on with the show


Grandmothers marching majestically

Down the Main Street of memory

In Packards unpacking boxes

Of memories wrapped in silk

That’s not so ancient it can still

Be savoured

Vintage memories whisked

Into nebulous clouds

By the imagination time

Is conquered time

Is conjured,

O the antique attics

The antique antics

Of grandmothers on

And on With the show…




O grandmothers all

Around the world I

Salute you all.


Vancouver 1993

Catherine Bryson cares for her 90-year-old father, a poet who still writes, often in his sleep. She runs a group called ShareCraft where community members meet and teach each other crafts and journaling, is a blogger on a caregiving site called North Van Caregivers and lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia.