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We All Straddle the Line (on the loss of my maternal grandmother)

my maternal grandmother

When our old people die,
they take whole pockets of time with them.
Entire chapters
are folded up neatly into their last sheets.
They comb out her hair while she is still warm,
the way she would want to be seen,
and whoever is blessed enough to be present
holds her cooling hand.

Our own deaths are grieved in every death.
Parts of me folded into her this morning,
and her closets I hid in,
her tin full of buttons,
her funny 1970s housedresses with the zippers up the front
have all become locked away, irretrievable now,
as though, before eight o'clock this morning,
I could have gone back into her kitchen of 30 years ago
and heard the shoosh of her slippers
as she busied herself back and forth along the counter.

Grief is strange.
Time is stranger.

We are strangers to this space that time has us inhabit,
and when our old people die,
they take us back with them in small increments,
as they birthed us over the years before,
and we all straddle the line.
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