Saturday, September 12, 2009

For my grandmother Blanche

Oil and light
down a hill covered with yellow flowers and green grasses

With words you rolled with folly itch skin
and little girl whim
but I was a little girl then
and you were a story

The house sits a splendid thinking giant
looking over the ocean
the red roof nesting in the trees you climbed
your eyes windows

Was this where you first noticed color and texture
I wonder

Then later you smelled the turpentine
and caught it like a virus in your lungs

You could taste it even in your little boat
where you wished the wind would take you
back to your brush

It was part of your hand then

You talked to birds
you see
with a whistle surprised that it should come
from a flowered dress
and a neglected waistline

You were my lemonade

She was silk lined and curled
salt and pepper the trick
Blanche talked to birds
had magic lemon trees
and a pinch of sugar the stir

My legs were too long she said
for the rocking chair
creak the memory resides
still living just over there
waiting for another child

Summer brought the flowers up
in the pond all sober and bright
their lavender like a song
cool across the nether place
of orange popping fish

La la la she was that too
warm in places where I yearned
a comforter I hoped could cover me safe
from someone bent to steal grace
but no she was not looking for the truth
that in his goodnight was my bad dream
and she will sleep forever
not knowing all the words
to the song I sang

The lines etched
across her face
are like a braded rug
made from pieces
of yesterday.
Her fingers tremble now
as she cradles baby time,
the rocking rhythm
gentles sorrow,
she forgets
the unessential sequence
of events
and calls me
by my mother's name
and my child
by mine,
then herself a child again
waits to be unborn.

On searching antique stores for Grandmother
I went to find the paint of her
stacked on a back shelf
of some antique of neglected dust
with just the scratched black initials
that were her youth

A canvas of dark stilled to life
like old tomatoes slightly wrinkled
you can almost squash with your eyes
and the musty smell of old closets
where gay colors dream of light

She whistled the walnut tree of birds
until they fell shells of questionable merit
to pry with magic tool on shaded table
a pile of forgotten cribs
the goodness shucked

Could her tune whistle across time
her silk bent around fabric still in mind
she would not remember that she forgot me
in her pale comparison when we were all her child
the young and old of us built on layers
of curly hair and round skirts
legs bitter rooted to hardwood and phonographs
that still crank a tune
and the line of us all waiting
to take our turn

Her cataracts are the attic of my description
bound with words that are made from watercolor
and each delicate wound seeps the orange rouge
of wilted cheeks blurred by time to my girlhood

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