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Grandma

                1.
Grandma close to 83,
severe arthritis in her back,
never uses a walker
She takes a glass of hot water (hot!) and lemon
each morning, then grinds some coffee beans
She’ll drink her coffee, Russian style,
in a glass, with a spoon, some milk and sugar
Makes herself oatmeal on the stove each morning
Does her yoga exercises and then eats
 
                2.
Their dying suspensions, their
elegant colors, their gradations
of greens to orange, to browns like paper
Oh their irritating contempt for expertise, their
obtuse racist appeals, to xenophobia, to ignorance
Our own ancestors, immigrants all,
would have been despised by them—
furious death where the waters splash—
would have been ashamed of them
 
                3.
The piercings no longer hurt
and all of her tattoos have
settled smoothly into her skin
Not so real your love, yes,
your bullshit love, your
nonsense love, your selfish,
supercilious, fickle, superficial love, yes
your damnable kind of love, yes, love
that dies in the heart
 
                4.
“Here he comes,
Mr. Joy, Mr. Charm”
or so my English teacher greeted me
in high school, and in all fairness
to Mr. Schwartz, I was morose
Never knew how or saw the need
to charm him or anyone else
Not this—that; not that—this
Not this or that until our core is reached
 
                5.
They’re all dead,
everyone in those family pictures
other than me
How can that be?
He’s that minor playwright who
sits at the table drinking ale,
all belligerent-like— you know—
the one who was murdered before
his work had a chance to mature
 
                6.
“Such courage your mother in her pain
to join us—such joie de vivre, such courage”
Mom never acquiesced in that sentiment
What did you expect her to do, idiot—
ball up into her illness like clay?
Why are those useless others alive when she isn’t?
The shallow ones who compete, who complain,
who irritate me, crowd me, like on the subway
when all I want is to ride in peace
 
                7.
Grandma was a character—
She referred to herself with us as
“your decrepit old grandma”
Never needed a walker and did yoga daily
She was convinced that
she’d get cancer
and then, one day, she did
The leaves are dying but not the trees
Are we the leaves?

 

 

 

 

-November 14, 2015-