Friday, June 17, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 012

I usually don't make comments on the "ALP" columns, as I think the poems speak for themselves. But, "Grandfather" particularly resonated with me, as I'm named after my grandfather, Fred Harper, a doctor (my brother corrects my failing memory that it was our *great*-grandfather who was the doctor) from Waterville, Maine, who died shortly before I was born.


Dead before I came into this world, grandfather,
I carry your name, yet I've never met you.
I hear my name, and know
that somehow they refer to you.
When I scribble those six letters
fast, to sign some document
or print them neatly in a box,
I feel your presence flow with the ink
stain and burn through the paper,
forever imprinted in my mind.
Late summer nights
gathered around the dinner table,
leftovers being cleared away,
faces clouded in cigarette smoke,
I hear voices pass the word
back and forth in reverence.
Somehow I know it's not me
the little one grabbing for attention.
They speak of you, Andrei,
the one I've never met,
whose name I carry.

Reprinted from "Paterson Literary Review" by permission of the author. Andrei Guruianu is a reporter for the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y. Poem copyright 2003 by Andrei Guruianu. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found my poem moving. I'm the author of the poem and am just recently getting into the blogging phenomenon and couldn't believe how many people have linked to the ALP site or copied the poem. It's wonderful. Just wanted to say thanks, and if you liked that one, maybe you'd like the others I put up on the blog I just created. Regards - Andrei