Photo for Bushwick Daily by Renee Ligtvoet.

Dziadzi (For My Grandfather)

By Natalie Gergich

sometimes I go down to the cellar

and I am awed

by the cold and dusty domain of mason jars fur coats plastic bouquets.

they sit on shelves with sad anticipation, dormant as forever through the mild months of May and June

when I would pick agrest and bring the berries to the turquoise kitchen.

Dziadzi would notice the pink of pride in my eight year old cheeks, smile and wink one of his watery blue eyes.

of course then I could not understand the depth of their patience and pain

all I saw was the love of a grandfather

when his granddaughter brought gifts from the gooseberry bush.

I remember when he made me that “Belle’s room” sign. I was five.

It was shiny like a mirror. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

he hung it on the door of the room where I slept, and I promptly was a princess.

I think on the dusty haze of afternoons he spent making birdhouses and shelves,

his brow furrowed in precision and love as he cut and hammered.

and I am awed.

they stand scattered like sacred statues around that house,

silent and noble as he was, the wooden vestiges of his honor.

they are quiet as his suffering.

sometimes I am startled by their presence,they speak thousands of words he never did.

as he aged his big rough hands grew clumsy, rings loose around his shaky fingers.

and then he couldn’t build anymore.

sometimes I sit in the Belle room and contemplate how his lips, with their rare grin

never issued complaint.

and I am awed.

if I let myself I can still hear the sound of his unsure step heavy across the morning

as he woke to make coffee, sometimes cream of wheat.

if I let myself I miss his rolled up sleeves and his laugh through gritted teeth,how he used to drive with his knees and the beautiful purity of  the stoic affection that he

bestowed on our family.

each day he unflinchingly took the blows of life with a carpenter’s wisdom.

my Dziadzi.

Natalie Grace Gergich is 23 years old and a recent graduate of Hunter College. She enjoys long rambling walks and conversations, pierogis, and all types of pickles. She is currently pregnant with her first daughter. Her Dziadzi, who this poem was written for, built the bassinet that she’ll soon sleep in.

Renee Ligtvoet, photographer, studied at the Willem the Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. She was born and raised in the Netherlands. She moved to NYC 5 months ago to expand her portfolio and to visualize dreams in every way. Check out more of her work at


Sunday Read is a weekly literary feature curated and edited by Wesley Salazar. We are accepting submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, script excerpts, comics, etc. (max: 1000 words) on a rolling basis. We are also looking for artists who would like to illustrate for Sunday Read. Please send submissions to