Three Poems by Barbara Eknoian



My powerful father lay in a coma
I remembered when he said,
“I was never baptized.”
I thought then,
someday, when you’re an old man,
somehow, we’ll get you baptized.

I rushed home and called
my Bible prayer leader
asking tearfully,
“I can baptize my father,
can’t I ?”

I put some water in a small bottle,
and placed it in my purse.
At his bedside, I opened the vial,
wet my fingers, and made
The sign of the cross
on his bald head.

I said, “I baptize you
in the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.”

I was afraid he’d open his eyes
and say, “What the hell are you doing?”
Just to be certain the baptism took,
I did it a second time.

First published in Chiron Review.


Up at five, I dress and drive to my son’s house.
He packs, while I sweep tile floors,
rake up kids’ tiny toys then vacuum rugs.

He fills boxes of odds and ends: food from the pantry,
lotions and medicine from chests,
a bicycle helmet and exercise weights from his office.

We put his dogs, Nickie and Miko into the back seat.
Raised outside, they’re not used to being corralled in a car.
My daughter holds on to them so they don’t jump up front.

My son is hiding regret that he’s losing his home.
We need to help and be here for him.
Today is Sunday, this is church.

First published in Chiron Review.

Going Home

I used to see her stooping down,
planting rows of lettuce,
resting sometimes on the stone bench
next to the goat pen.
Or, in her cellar kitchen,
the Italian radio station playing
while she busily stirred a large pot
of tomato sauce, or kneaded
huge mounds of dough to bake bread.

I never heard Grandma laugh out loud.
Her eyes were sad, soft and brown.
Her birthday, a secret, never celebrated
after she crossed the Atlantic
and her baby girl Mary died at Ellis Island.

I never knew much about Grandma.
She didn’t speak my language,
and I wondered why she looked so sad.
When she passed away,
Aunt Mary told me Grandma
once rode horses bareback in Calabria,
and had accompanied her father
to weddings where she played the mandolin.

Now, I think of her riding down a country road,
her long hair flying in the wind,
a mandolin strapped to her back,
and I hear her laughing
as she turns around and smiles back to all of us.



Barbara Eknoian is a poet and novelist. She is a long-time member of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach where she’s happy to practice her craft. Her poetry books and novels are available at Amazon. She lives in La Mirada, CA with son, daughter, three grandsons, and three dogs (which she never picked out). She’s always reminded that she has never lost her Jersey accent.

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