A Martyr’s Crown: For My Grandmother During Domestic Violence Month (Poem)

Richard Walker

Richard Walker, Mexican/Yaqui, is a newspaper editor in Kitsap County, Washington, and a correspondent for Indian Country Today Media Network. 

We know now, Grandmother, how you
must have suffered the 65 or so years
you kept the secret.

We know now how much love you carried,
that you drank only to dull the memory,
that you danced and sang to bring beauty into
your world,

to make flowers bloom on the dry desert

Like Jesus on the cross,
carrying the sin of man so that
man might live,

you were a female Jesus
on a cross —
the sin of a man like nails through
your hands and feet —

and you rose again
so that your son might live.

You silently bore your stigmata
so that your son might live
without stigma.

You gave your son a name,
the name of the beautiful man you married,

a man who was loving and patient
and knew how to comfort you when the
nightmares returned
or the memory’s haunt
was so strong it sent you to the refuge of
the bottle

and then the kitchen floor.

Your sacrifice was not in vain.
From you, generations sprang forth,
great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren,
each blessed with memories of you.

Blessed—and what else could you be,
living to almost 84,
surrounded by generations,
loved and respected by many,

you, who ascended into heaven
and were given a martyr’s crown?

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