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- Ray Young Bear

Summary and Central Idea

American Indian poet Ray Young Bear describes his grandmother through the poem grandmother. His grandmother is all-loving and all inspiring. He says that when he saw her front a mile away, he would immediately know her because of her purple scarf and plastic shopping bag. He would easily know her hands which were damp and warm with the smell of roots. Poet's grandmother is dead at present, so, he goes to fell his mother to the grave. He realizes that her words are coming out of a rock, which flows inside hint as a light.

The poet shows his deep love and respect for his grandmother. For him, she was the source of knowledge and spirit. Her words flow inside him as great inspiration. From every sense organ, he would immediately know her. Her warm and damp hands show how deeply she loved him. Poet equally shows his deep respect for the native land, which is in crisis at present due to whites’ encroachment (presence). Grandmother symbolizes the ancestry. Purple scarf and plastic shopping bags are typical objects related to Native Americans. The use of roots is the search of lost tribal identity. To feel the actual value of his grandmother and ancestry, the poet uses sensory perception, which is as follows;

Sight: Wearing a purple scarf and carrying a plastic shopping bag

Smell: Work in the field, hands with the smell of roots.

Hearing: Sound from the gravestone and her inspiring words.

Feeling: Her hands are wet and warm.