In this poem, “The Grandmother,” Bear concentrates on his grandmother. The poem can be read both literally and metaphorically . Literally, he draws a picture of his all-loving and all-inspiring grandmother, and metaphorically, the poet tries to reflect upon the vanished  communities of Native American tribes in general and the Mesquaki tribe in particular. Ray Young. Bear, draws a realistic picture of his grandmother, all-loving, all-inspiring and remember the remarkable shape, movement, voice and activities, of his grandmother. He shows deep love towaras her. Though his grandmother is no longer in this world, the Images of her ‘wearing a purple scarf round her head and holding a plastic shopping bag in her hand’ often comes to the poet.
The poet says that he can not see my grandmother’s shape, nor feel her hands on my head, nor hear her voice coming from the rock. He can only think what he would do if he saw her shape, felt her hands on my head and heard her voice. She is no more with him. If he could see her face from a distance, from a mile away, he would quickly know that it was his grandmother with the purple scarf and plastic shopping bag. If he could feel hand on my head, he would know her warm and damp hands from where she would come with the smell of roots. If he could hear a voice coming from the rock he would know that it was my grandmother’s voice. He would feel her words flowing inside him. The flow of her words would be like the light coming out of the sleeping fie at night.
The poet says that her voice would be the source of inspiration for him. The memory of his grandmother takes the poet back to his childhood when they shivered (trembled) with cold at night and his grandmother would move the fire from the thick ashes to create warmth. Though the poet’s grandmother left him many years before. But her images, voice, love, inspiration and memory are still animating in the mind and heart of the poet. Likewise the activities, behaviours, intructions, shape and so many other memory of his grandmother are the source of living which encourage him at all the moment.
INTERPRETATIONS FROM YOUR ENGLISH TEACHER
• The grandmother of the poet is the prominent and highly regarded women of contemporary America who represent the difficulties in Mesquaki tribe.
• The poet assumes and senses that he would see the shape of his grandmother from the miles away.
• Poet sees his grandmother from his inner eyes, that it is his merely assumption only, and he would recognize his grandmother instantly who is coming from the long distance. He even assumes that if he would see from his outer eyes, he would see his grandmother coming from the long distance or from the mile away by wearing purple scarf and carrying plastic shopping bag.
• The poet assumes that if he felt hand on his head, the poet know that those hands were his grandmother’s which are warm and damp with the smell of roots.
• Again, the poet assumes that if he heard a voice from the rock, he would know that he words are resounded in his heart with instant flow inside him like the light of someone stirring ashes from a sleeping fire at night.
• The poet implies the rigid suppression to the Mesquaki tribe by the Americans, especially the white Americans.
• In spite of suppression, discrimination and contempt, the tribe strongly existed in the American states.
• The poet sustains the cultural ethics, values and norms of Mesquaki tribe.
• The poet reveals the difficulties of women in that tribe, the poem shows that women in that tribe faces great struggle to sustain their lives.There is the rustic scene of American countryside where the tribes reside.