Thursday, March 1, 2012

SOLS #1: Stories Over Coffee

Writers write about special places they remember.  When I started writing about sitting beside my grandfather at the counter of Roots Restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, I expected to write a short personal narrative.  In "Crafting a Life in Essay, Story, Poem," Donald Murray reminds us "to find the voice and forget about intention (E.L. Doctorow)."  When I think about story, I can't help but think about my grandfather.  It is his stories I carry with me forever.  

My grandfather waits
As the waitress brings his cup of coffee.
Steam rises above
The hot black liquid.
Grandpa pours thick white milk
And a bit of sugar.
He stirs his coffee slowly.
I grab my drink
From the cool white counter.
Around the glass
I wrap my small hand.

He banters with the waitress.
To all who enter
He shares a warm hello.
We sit there
Side by side.

Friendly small talk
With others at the counter.
A kind word to a stranger.
I watch him from my stool
My feet dangle in the air.

He sips his coffee
Tells me a story.
I drink my chocolate milk 
And smile.
There is nowhere I’d rather be.

He finishes his stories.
Places a quarter under his saucer.
Rises from his seat.
I slide down to follow 
Close behind. 

The waitress looks at me
And winks.
We leave our empty glasses
But carry our stories with us.
Where they will be


  1. Your poem is testimony to the fact that we carry our stories with us as you paint such a detailed picture of the moments spent at the restaurant counter with grandpa. It's truly amazing what we remember, isn't it? So telling of what's important.

    1. Mardie,
      Spending time with my grandpa was one of my favorite things to do. I could write thirty slices just about him.

  2. This post is amazing! My favorite is "We leave our empty glasses but carry our stories with us." To share stories. Grandparents are wonderful! MaryHelen

    1. MaryHelen,
      Thanks. I was a bit surprised to find myself writing a poem. My grandfather was full of stories. Thankfully he shared them often. They constantly replay in my mind.

  3. This slice of life involving your grandfather is wonderful. I love the memories you have of such a simple event.

    1. Thanks, Karen. A reminder that the ordinary things are extraordinarily important.

  4. I think the poem turned out to be quite powerful, didn't it? A simple outing with Grandpa, yet I could picture the moments so clearly as if I were sitting there watching. Just love: W leave our empty glasses, but carry our stories with us. A beautiful sentiment. Happy writing!

    1. Michelle,
      I am here because I have so enjoyed your slices. Thanks for stopping.

  5. Cathy --
    I can't wait to get to know you more through your slices...and what a treat they are! I love how you shared the background of your process. Your precise word choice is stunning.

    1. Ruth,
      The event you and Stacey have organized came along at the perfect time. Your session at Dublin Lit really made me realize I needed to get back in the writing habit. Now to figure out how to balance writing, reading, and commenting.
      Thank you!

  6. Beautifully written Cathy. Grandparents are truly the source of so many beautiful stories. I'm glad to be on this journey with you.

    1. Thanks, Julie. I think it is fun to have so many friends joining in the challenge.

  7. Oh, Cathy,
    Just beautiful. I can see the counter, the quarter, your legs swinging from the stool--touching and nostalgic images. Loved it.

    1. Thanks, Lee Ann. It was fun to write.

  8. My dad, your grandpa... What else can I say... What an awesome man he was and he is forever in our hearts and souls... He would be so proud of you and all that you have become... I know he smiles down on you everyday!!!!


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