Portrait of My Grandmother, Not Knitting

by Jeannie Prinsen

She in her rocking chair, me
with pencils poised. Simple at first –
cardigan sweater and flowered apron,
slender ankles and laced shoes –

then harder: hair a white skein, mouth
upturned, placid, belying the harsh words
she could cast. But her hands? Impossible –
weaving, winding, little finger looping,

needles scissoring. So I drew them folded,
still. Everyone said it was the image of her,
but I think I gave up too soon – should have
watched each stitch obediently mount

her needle, studied the quick shrug of her elbow
as she yanked yarn from the basket. But
then, she was the one who taught me:
not to waste time doing other people justice.


Jeannie Prinsen lives with her husband, daughter, and son in Kingston, Ontario, where she is a copyeditor for a local news organization. Her writing has appeared in Barren, Relief, Juniper, and elsewhere. She can be found on Twitter at @JeanniePrinsen.

Image: Maranda Vandergriff

Image description: Colored spools of yarn stacked on top of each other and viewed from the side.