For my grandpa

Edward Meylor 1902-1974

At the Cliff Walk

                    Newport, Rhode Island

Yesterday, I heard
an Iowa farmer’s gravel voice
as Atlantic surf dashed smooth pebbles
against a rootless coast,
groaning them back and forth
with each surge.

In that instant,
I was almost six again,
walking far from the farmhouse
and in the path of a rooster
who raised his wings, snapped
his talons. My grandfather’s deep bass
struck the air and his quick hands
circled the bird’s neck in flight.

Yesterday, I stood
on a high precipice
above churning agate seas
and heard my grandfather’s voice
rumble down channels of green fields.
I lingered as he roared back
at churning eddies below
to save me again.


My grandpa was a wise and gentle man who had a rumbly voice and lots of interesting hobbies. This poem came about after my very first visit to the Cliff Walk, a beautiful path that runs along the Atlantic Ocean in the “back yards” of Newport’s mansions. I clearly remember the sensation of hearing his voice while I was walking on the path. When I turned a corner I realized that the “voice” was the gravel sea bottom rolling back and forth with the tide. I’ve been there many times since then, but have never had the same experience. Grandpa died 38 years ago this month, and grandma died not long after. Anyone have some memories of them to share?


4 thoughts on “For my grandpa

  1. Julie, that was just amazing. I have so few memories of him. I wish someone could tell more stories about Grandpa and Grandma….

  2. I don’t have hardly any memories of them. I remember coloring in a Woody Wood Pecker coloring book while Dad and Grandpa were reading the newspaper. Must have been after church.
    Grandma would put vanilla in my milk. I still love that flavor.

  3. I can’t believe it’s 38 years since his death. I remember flying back and being with everyone. What I remember most is that my mother insisted on making out the thank-you notes and mailing off the mass requests later in the afternoon after the funeral. As always, when there were things to be done, they had to be done now. Thank you so much for posting this poem.

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