Last night I started writing a post about my maternal grandfather, whom I called Grandpa. A nostalgic sort, I tend to sometimes dwell in my memories and the stories told to me by my family. Those places that are sepia-toned and a bit soft around the edges. Tales in which truth and embellishment have become interwoven into the same long braid.
For today, I’ve set the snark aside and offer these instead.
the burial of older men
in the darkness
before the sky cracks dripping yolk sun
she hovers the room
the coffee maker clicks dribbles
an appropriate dress hangs on the closet door
it is black
with sensible shoes
lined up neatly as pall bearers
her father scoffed at time
the today show congratulated william whitted
for inhaling, exhaling, defecating for a century
it is an accomplishment to survive
it is a failure to die
two days ago, her brother – jimmy – failed
he was three years older
when she was four
jimmy threw a rock at her head
she married young
her limbs scarred as worn out nylons
she married before she reached full height
she married before her underarms needed shaving
she married so someone else could watch
for flying rocks
her husband, too, was older
ernie drove the fire truck
sang with velvet throat
walked like a rooster
walked like a snake
depended on the legs the whiskey was wearing
she grew older
jimmy shook his head
her father just shook
she has yet to bury a man
her mother and daughter were boxed up
and sent off to god
she is old now
she hangs from this cliff
with one knobby hand
her husband zips her dress
she combs his hair
today she throws back her first rock
it lands with a thud
somewhere above jimmy’s head
The Last Days
You may have escaped me,
the marble that rolled under the sofa
hidden for years.
I knew your tanned legs and feet,
the palms of your hands –
smooth as tumbled river stones –
the watch face that rested against the inside of your wrist,
your penchant for painting all the furniture
Your sentences often started somewhere
in the middle.
I learned to follow along,
but failed to query
when your kidneys, your heart
I never discovered the source of the incessant ticking,
the wound spring
controlling your breaths,
the truths that kept you going.
What did you think about
blanched and shrunken in a hospital recliner,
cable out because of a storm?
The last time I saw you,
I combed your hair,
bought you a paper,
but forgot to ask what you were thinking
the other twenty-three hours of the day.
Maybe I was afraid you’d start somewhere in the middle,
and – sometimes – a teaspoon of water
can be worse than none at all.
“the burial of older men” and “The Last Days” are copyright 2007 and are the sole property of Cristy Carrington Lewis.
The snark shall return later this week. If you liked this post, please follow me on Facebook by clicking here.