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And the Grandmother Ate the Baby

There are no good things about my grandmother anymore,
or at least that I hear in conversations about her
at family suppers, weddings, and that time at Easter
when she was tired and wanted to nap,
as anyone would after nine people
pushed their way into your handicapable apartment
equipped with alarm buttons by the bed.

Today, the conversation is happening
in a minivan on a windy highway, and
grandma is old,
grandma has been to the hospital again,
grandma is depressed and wants to run away,
grandma never wants to die.
This makes me wonder what use she finds for her God
when He makes her journey to the grave
no more graceful or enlightened
than any other animal.

I rarely talk to my grandmother,
but I am told her woes in great detail.
Her life, I am given to believe, is no celebration of itself.
I told her that if she ran away, she'd have to take her body, someone said,
and she said “I know”. She just wants to start over again.
I resent the storyteller and my grandmother for this.
I don't want to know these things.
I don't want to accidentally absorb this kind of end for myself.
By blood, it feels as though this could be me.
They are giving me bad mojo.

I look out the window at a copse of trees,
the ones over there passing us by on the highway,
and I imagine myself there with a cigarette;
I am smoking it under that branch
which brushes my hair into my eyebrows.
I would smoke, cancer be damned,
because better that than be spoken of like this,
as though I were my mind, and I were being erased,
or was erasing myself, with each false memory and chronological snafu.

Someone says, She is getting so tiny. There's nothing to her.
I think, 88-year-olds are tiny, because they are.
When I volunteered in a nursing home,
all of the women had skinny little legs
with fine, long hairs camouflaged between liver spots.
Inside my head I become sarcastic.
I am my fifteen of twenty years ago;
I roll my inside eyes at obvious things said with too much feeling.
She's old, she's frail, she's going to die soon, I think.
There is little else more obvious than that.

Part of me likes to hear this, though,
that she suffers dissatisfaction and a sense of entropy.
I do not; I will be better than this at the end.
I am full of myself.
It divorces me from my blood, these pesky ties,
the wiry twists that keep showing up in my knife drawer.

I feel as though I could just float out through the window
and the 110-kilometer-an-hour wind
wouldn't batter me into the asphalt along with the gophers and porcupines.
I could just float out this window,
squeeze through the tempered glass by some magic osmosis,
and sit on a rock under those trees, smoking.
It could be like I've always been there – tree, rock, me –
the still spot played over with shadows,
breathing in the peanutbuttery aftertaste of old tobacco against my tongue.

No one can lament your sitting on a rock.
There is nothing to remember.
The line of time contracts to a point beneath a bough,
and you can be anyone.

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