Poetry by Theodore Caputi

My Grandmother

It is curious how family
Can warm a room
As conversation livens
An impending death

I will never forget the silence
Walking into a dimly lit hospital room
Somber Italian men sitting all ‘round her bed
With more heads bowed than Christmas mass

To nobody was this a surprise
Grandma had outlived everyone’s expectation
Pancreatic cancer clawing at her tender eyes
Turning her skin and soul sour

“Today is the day”
We had been forewarned
Through respectfully cryptic messages
Passed between the elders

The morning is fatally silent
Each tear and wimper has its moment
As it echoes across the room
Nobody dares utter a word

As time passes, conversation begins
First mildly, tenderly
Spoken in only a quiet whisper
“How is grandpa doing?”

With the rising sun,
The room comes to life
Comparing new cell phones, new jobs
The only one not talking is grandma

At first, I feel slighted
As though I am robbed
Of my chance to mourn
My dear grandmother

But it soon becomes obvious
That she would not want any different
That she would want her death to be a gentle dash--
Instead of a full stop.

And such is the only natural
It is human nature to seek out life
Even in the face of tragic

I turn on the television
“Find her some music” barks Uncle Adam
Grandpa always found solace in music
Perhaps today grandma could learn to do the same

The effervescent sparkles
Of the New York Symphony Orchestra
Contrast starkly from
The harsh mechanical flat line

Their men’s words fail just as her heart
I, the youngest, am alone to speak
I love you, grandma
I love you.


Theodore Caputi hails from the Philadelphia area. He studies mathematics, finance, and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. He performs research on and usually writes his poetry about substance abuse and addiction. Theodore dedicates this poem to his grandmother, who passed away earlier this year after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer.

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