Naomi Shihab Nye

Grandfather’s Heaven

My grandfather told me I had a choice.
Up or down, he said. Up or down.
He never mentioned east or west.

Grandpa stacked newspapers on his bed
and read them years after the news was relevant.
He even checked the weather reports.

Grandma was afraid of Grandpa
for some reason I never understood.
She tiptoed while he snored, rarely disagreed.

I liked Grandma because she gave me cookies
and let me listen to the ocean in her shell.
Grandma liked me even though my daddy was a Moslem.

I think Grandpa liked me too
though he wasn’t sure what to do with it.
Just before he died, he wrote me a letter.

“I hear you’re studying religion,” he said,
“That’s how people get confused.
Keep it simple. Down or up.”

spoken = Susannah Wood