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November 2, 2012

Poetry Friday--Decisions

I had to make a momentous decision last weekend. My first grandchild, Julian, was born nine days early. I was forced to decide what it was I wanted my grandchild to call me. I had been thinking about this for a long time. Even before I learned of the pregnancy. I knew I didn't want to be grandma, nor a granny, nor a gram. I have Polish, but also some Austrian, Scots, and Irish roots. It felt pretentious to use Babçi (Polish for grandmother), since I don't speak Polish, nor do I follow many Polish traditions. But, on the other hand, since my paternal grandmother was Babçi it would be nice to pass on some personal connections to the "old country." I decided to go with Babçi (pronounced Bahb-chee) or Babka (another Polish word for grandmother and also a coffee cake). I kind of like Babka--what's not to like about coffee cake?--but, Babçi slips off my tongue more easily. For now, it's Babçi, if Julian ends up calling me something else (like Crazy Cat Lady?), then it may be up for discussion again.

I went looking for a poem about decision-making and I found this one:
The Decision
by Jane Hirshfield

There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of   kiln.
The letter might still be taken
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room’s air.
The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it--
looks around,
sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.

from Come, Thief: Poems
It's not hard deciding to head over to Mainely Write--the Poetry Friday Round-Up is in full swing!


  1. I love the line about "not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed."
    What a beautiful poem about decisions.

    My kids call my mother Baba (short for the Russian babushka) and my husband's mother Gamma (because Ben couldn't pronounce grandma when he was little). My husband's grandmother somehow ended up being called Goody because of someone's mis-pronunciation.

  2. My favorite part is the very concrete "The letter might still be taken from the mailbox." I really like this poem. Thank you!

    And congratulations on your new grandson!

  3. What a lovely decision to need to make! Congratulations Babci!

  4. Congratulations, Diane! And thanks for sharing this poem. I often pause right before hitting the Send button on any letter or submission to my agent, an editor, etc. Just that momentary knowing of This email could change things, no matter how insignificant it seems in topic or content. I love

    and the amplifying drum-skin of the room’s air.

  5. Congrats, Diane! May "I" call you Babka? :) Wonderful poem . . .

  6. Thanks everyone for the congratulations.

    Feel free to call me Babka, Jama! By the way, if anyone wants a recipe for babka, I have one that makes a nice breakfast treat. It uses yeast, but there's no kneading involved.

  7. Congratulations, Babci! I think keeping those traditional names going is a great idea. I am Nana, which I changed from my own Nanny probably due to the current meaning/connotation. The poem is lovely, as one would expect from Jane Hirschfield.

  8. And congratulations on becoming a Babci. I'm a one year old Nanny! Thanks for sharing a great poem about making decisions.

  9. Congratulations, Bab├ži! Love that last line.

  10. Congratulations, Diane!! Great poem, too.

  11. I saw Jane Hirshfield reading at the Dodge Festival. Good stuff!