You Don’t Need Words

Jacqueline Woodson

“Who hasn’t walked through a life of small tragedies?

Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

sometimes no words are needed

by Jacqueline Woodson

Deep winter and the night air is cold. So still,
it feels like the world goes on forever in the darkness
until you look up and the earth stops
in a ceiling of stars.  My head against
my grandfather’s arm,
a blanket around us as we sit on the front porth swing.
Its whine like a song.

You don’t need words
on a night like this.  Just the warmth
of your grandfather’s arm. Just the silent promise
that the world as we know it
will always be here.

what god knows

by Jacqueline Woodson

We pray for my grandfather
Ask God to spare him even though
he’s a nonbeliever. We ask that Jehovah look
into his heart, see
the goodness there.

But my grandfather says he doesn’t need our prayers.
I work hard, he says, I treat people like I want
to be treated.
God sees this.  God knows.

At the end of the day
he lights a cigarette , unlaces
his dusty brogans. Stretches his legs.
God sees my good, he says.
Do all the preaching and praying you want

but no need to do it for me.