Issue 12 | Winter 2013

The Miracle of Television

My grandmother told my brother and me
rolling around the floor
in front of the snowy black and white screen
to sit up straight and behave
because they could see us, and she wasn’t joking
or trying to fool two kids buzzed on tall Pepsis
into the quiet she deserved
after another day over the stove
and the steaming tubs of clothes in the basement,
a sweet, generous soul from the old country
who spoke broken English.
She really believed it, not so big a leap, really, as the one
she took when she left Czechoslovakia for the land
of promised work, grinding as it was,
and two kinds of roasts for Sunday dinner
and now a machine that somehow
brought people from distant cities through the wires
into her front room on Lehigh Street
where Eddie Cantor rolled his wide eyes
and soft-shoed his way into her heart,
and where Jimmy Durante put on his topcoat and hat,
and started singing “Good Night,” turning and walking away
through smaller and smaller spotlights, stopping
to look back at the short, round woman in a flowered apron
sitting in her stuffed chair, perfectly attentive,
her worn hands folded carefully on her lap.

Filed under: Poetry