Sunday, July 12, 2009

Everyday Poetry: Are we alone?

This was my beloved Grandmother Glen, who I only knew as an old woman. I like to think of her with her long red hair, riding her horse through the immensities of the Nebraska grasslands in August, endlessly dappled with native sunflowers and Black-Eyed Susans. When I visited her grave in 2005, I planted some perennial "Susans" there.

That trip to Dewitt, Nebraska is one of my favorite magical stories..........worth retelling here.


In 2005, I had a summer residency in Connecticut. Enroute, I stopped at a rest stop in New Mexico for a lunch bread. Sitting at a picnic table shaded from the hot sun, I saw something shiny on the ground, and investigating, found a pair of expensive looking, elaborate pliers. It seemed wasteful to just leave them there, so I threw them into the back of my car, and proceed with my long trip.

Somewhere around Missouri, I got the idea of taking a northerly detour and trying to find the grave of my grandmother. I knew that she had been buried in a small town called Dewitt in Nebraska. She died when we were overseas, and my father had flown out to bury her. I realized that no one had visited that grave in almost 40 years. I didn't even know if Dewitt still existed.

But Dewitt did still exist, not too far from Beatrice, and I found the graveyard, and was glad to finally see the landscape my grandmother had infused my childhood imagination with. After paying my respects I took a day to learn something about this little town of about 3,000 people. It turned out that if you weren't farming in Dewitt, you probably worked at the tool and die factory, which had been established in the 20's by a Swedish immigrant, and was famous for it's patented "Vice Grip".

You can probably see where this story is going. I drove on to Connecticut, unpacked my car when I arrived, and discovered the pliers I had completely forgotten about. In the side of the handle was the legend:

"Vice-Grip: The Original"