Saturday, July 26, 2008

the fourth of july does not exist

the fourth of july does not exist
and neither does this heat
and neither does my chronic cough
and neither do we

my grandmother is dying in the hospital
she's trying to crawl out of her bed
im haunted by her bony knees
and that heartbreaking blue gown
(i cannot look at her for long
i turn my face and bite my cheeks)
the fourth of july does not exist
and soon neither will she

i dont know what she ever wanted for me
other than that old brass mirror
and a rosary

i never wanted anything from her
other than her copy of anna karenina
and her pirate-ship mirror

now she's something you might
find on the beach
an empty shell that used to house
some fragile little thing

(i always thought i would find her dead,
lying in bed in the house on los ondas,
not like this

not in any way like this.)

i always thought she'd fall asleep
and not wake up one day
not be in such fucking pain
her eyes as glazed as if she was
that fox behind glass
that sarah and i saw,
frozen in a moment of pure life
and then arranged in a little box

limbs all awkwardly mid-step
and with that irksome empty face

i never thought that i would see her
fighting with her sheet

and i sure as hell never thought i'd see her
speechless.




-------------------------

grandma

grandma finally died
not with me at her side as i hoped it would be happen

but alone sometime in the morning

with her rosary clasped in her swollen hand
nails perfect as always
blood congealing beneath the surface of her fingers
i dont know why

and now the obituary's out
a big block of print in the paper
a sixty-something year old picture
her blouse as pale as winter

her smile all honest and shining
it was during the war

but before breast cancer and mastectomy
before ill and dying husband
before three jobs and no money
before the house on los ondas

i've watched the home-movies and i've seen her
and she was irrepressible, delightful

she danced on the deck of a ship
she wore pink on her wedding day
she smiled so easy

and i am left wishing i could talk to her again
just for a handful of minutes
enough time to tell her

oh a handful of the usual things

i hope i never broke her heart too badly

i hope i never broke it at all

2 comments:

chella said...

allison,
these two poems are so moving--the speaker's voice is down to earth & full of love w/out sentimentality. i like the way the speaker speculates how she thought she'd find her grandmother rather than how her grandmother was in the hospital bed. i wept.

thinking of you, chella

Maggie May said...

i love these poems.

i wrote about the same thing. my grandma died two years ago in an assisted living facility.

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