poetry and prose about place

my grandmother’s eyes

with 2 comments

Although my grandmother, my Dad’s mother, died shortly after I was born, she was always a part of our summer visit to my grandfather’s farm.  Her photographic portrait, taken when she was a child, hung in the kitchen, above the cot where we played board games on rainy days.

I think about her sometimes, working in the kitchen, gathering apples in the orchard, making quilts for winter.  My Dad, who called her Mama,  told me how she made warm quilts by sewing wool squares from old sweaters to a blanket ‘backing’.   

I know so little about her.  I wish I had asked my Dad to tell me more.

my grandmother (photo taken in 1954)


Her Eyes Follow Me




my grandmother

the one I never knew

was a portrait

a life-sized photograph

under curved glass

blurred at the edges

hung in the kitchen


she leaned over me

her eyes followed me

            a child’s eyes

            though she died at fifty




the three of us

played a game

my brother watched her eyes

and I would creep

along the wall


leap out


her eyes found me

in an instant




I know her eyes were blue

            though the portrait was grey and white




she is also


her last card at Christmas

            a paper poinsettia

            in the branches

            of our tree


the dim photo of a mother

            in a faded housedress

            some unknown cousin

            gathered in her arms


her last letter

            love to the baby




to say I never knew her

is a kind of lie


I knew her eyes

and they have

followed me


Published as: ‘Her Eyes Follow Me’, Winter 1996, The Antigonish Review 104:59.


© Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 17, 2011 at 7:23 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Your story and poem reminded me of two things… One is the Eric Clapton song, “My Father’s Eyes.” The other is my own paternal grandmother, who I never knew. She was 55 when she died before I was born. There are a couple of pictures of her, but my father and my aunts have told me many things about her. I like the way you expressed your awareness that her eyes have followed you… beautiful!


    Barbara Rodgers

    August 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    • Hi Barbara. My advice is… write them down. Dad told me more… but I didn’t write down what he said, and I have forgotten…. Jane


      jane tims

      August 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: