five feet tall, was a giant. Her head scraped the sky,
her hair was a cloud. When she spoke, lightning
crackled around each word, and her arms held all the family.
Her hands could swat the rooster away, grab a chicken
and wring its neck for Sunday’s midday meal or kill a pig
before it had time to squeal.
The garden revealed her power—potato plants ten-foot high, tubers
big as pumpkins, basketball-sized radishes,
a green forest of onions to get lost in, and acorn squash big enough
for us—the grandchildren— to hide behind.
She tended to it all, unbuckled galoshes flapping at her ankles thick as posts,
trailing footprint craters as she moved.
The Grandmother’s thumb turned dirt into seedlings, seedlings into food,
and was known from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods
and beyond the invisible line dividing us from Canada.
Sometimes one of us would grasp her hand, press her magic thumb to the top
of each of our heads so we’d grow faster. Her laughter boomed in our acorn ears.
Little by little we sprouted, until one day it seemed as if The Grandmother, too,
was changing. First the pigs disappeared, then the chickens. When the garden
began shrinking, so did she. Now our grandma sits, lost among blooms that dwarf her.
C.J. Muchhala’s work has appeared in anthologies, art exhibits, print and on-line journals, and has been nominated for the Best of Net and Pushcart prizes. She lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.