Grandmother’s Insomnia

Apr 26, 2015

Ave_MariaGrandmother’s Insomnia
by Thelma T. Reyna


She awaits daylight on the skinny edge of
her daughter’s cot, rolled
away in mornings, at night a rusty
sentry in the spidered corner of the hall.
Like a wax figure melting, she sinks to
her knees, now permanently ahead from
prayer, her paper lips whispering the
Credo, Ave Maria, and a hundred holy
lines she can mouth in sleep—if sleep comes—her
knobby fingers twined like vines, wooden rosary
swaying from her palms.

After eighty years, day and night meld into
one. Closeness to eternity makes
blackness deep and long. Her feather body
wafts from room to room, gloom
to gloom, prickly shawl cocooning her from
drafts. She peeks on tiptoes at the sleeping, slumps
beside the stove, flames long-dead, passes to the
parlor, where moonlight cuts long shadows in
the rug and frames her narrow face as
she lifts the curtain from the pane
and peers outside




Copyright © 2014, “Grandmother’s Insomnia” by Thelma T. Reyna
Photo, above, by Simon Eugster –Simon 14:29, 5 July 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons




Thelma T. Reyna is the multiple-national-award-winning author of four books: a short story collection (The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories), two poetry chapbooks (Breath & Bone; and Hearts in Common); and a full-length collection of her poems, Rising, Falling, All of Us, which won four literary honors in 2014.




Reyna received a Ph.D. from UCLA. and currently serves as the Poet Laureate of the Altadena Library District. She is also the editor of the Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015, which has just been released.




 Altadena Poetry Review is available through Golden Foothills Press and Amazon for $14.95.



2 Responses for “Grandmother’s Insomnia”

  1. Dear Kat: Thank you very much for posting this poem from my book, RISING, FALLING, ALL OF US. Thanks for posting the info about our newly-released anthology as well. It has 105 outstanding poems by 60 area poets. I appreciate all the publicity these fine writers can get.

    The poem above is biographical, about my maternal grandma, who lived with my large Texas family for many years throughout my adolescence. She was a rock of strength for us: always cooking, cleaning, watching over us while my divorced mother of 9 children, without financial assistance other than her job, went to work 50 miles each way. Grandma kept the home fires burning, as they say. She was selfless, understanding, and I loved her immensely.

  2. heart rending and noble piece



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