Posts Tagged ‘grandma


Going To Bed With Wet Hair

My grandmother could never go to bed with wet hair;
She said It made her feel ill and kind of feverish.
She preferred to wash it in the morning then while it
Was still a little damp she coiled it into a snail’s shell
On the back of her head, piercing it and attempting to lock it
Into place with a dozen or more bobby-pins she held in her teeth.
When I was a little girl I dreamed of drawing my hair over one shoulder,
Weaving it into long snakey plaits- like Rapunzel
Or the daughters in the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder-
Allowing it to dry overnight before snipping the bands
The next morning, releasing an ocean of golden waves
To trail enticingly from a tower window.
Usually I lacked the patience to allow my hair to grow;
The few times my hair was long enough to finally braid,
My arms would get too tired to finish it.
These days I’m more accepting of myself and I wear my hair shorter.
But I could never go to bed with still wet hair.
I’ve woken up too many mornings with one side looking starched
While the other was run about in by small children with dirty feet.


Happy Thanksgiving

It used to be a day about family
And food,
Gettin’ dressed up to make our journey,
To Grandma’s without snow,
Over the river and through the wood.

Now my folks fight over turkey
And they badger me;
A six-pack of faux beer and
Some KFC
For just me and the cat
Is starting to sound mighty good.



Grandma made it like
this; Macaroni bathed in
cheese sauce and memory.



It always felt like summer vacation.
Judy Collins sang “Cook With Honey”.
We ate blackberry pie with chopsticks,
Holding our mouths close to our Blue Willow plates.
Hours in the Art Museum and library.
The sharp, salty taste of an old deli.
Watching “Fiddler On The Roof”.
Just for fun, researching the Bubonic Plague.
A Greyhound trip to Denver.
Holiday laughter at the kids’ table.
Falling asleep in her black recliner
With a book and the Sunday paper
On my face and on the floor.
Bob Marley crooning.
Pasta water bubbling.
Tomatoes, onions, garlic simmering,
Veiling the kitchen windows with fog.

A frosty Monday morning.
She’s steamed up the kitchen cooking oatmeal.
Her breathing is harsh and wheezing
When she carries the bowls and brown sugar in to the table.
Her step is steady but a little slower
At least here in the apartment.
She doesn’t seem any more stooped.
She catches me looking.
I think I see a challenge in her eyes.
I quickly look away.
She sits down, straightens, and almost smiles.
We quietly spoon up our oatmeal.
A dog wuffs as it walks up the back stairs.
Anna asks her the big questions she’s brought:
What’s your most valued piece of technology?
What events do you fear?
What do you want most?
I listen for a minute then I lean back
And look at our history hung all over the walls.
Grandma’s children and her children’s children
And the others.
She babysat till she was seventy-five.
After we hug her “goodbye”,
She goes toward the recliner.
(I like to imagine that- like I did-
She’ll be “catching a snooze”.)
“The back porch used to be my office.
That’s where I kept my dress-up clothes,
My colored paper, and my chalk.
No one else was allowed to touch it.”
“You told me that already.
You’re really starting to repeat yourself.”
By the shores of Gitchee Gumee.
St. Patrick’s where they say a Spanish Mass.
Playing “The Minister’s Cat” till midnight.
Eating pink grapefruit with a spoon.
We’re miles away
But now
The fog from her oatmeal
Makes it hard for me to see.