THE GRANDMOTHER POEM
Everyone’s got one. How she
holds the family together, makes
special soup (with WASPs it’s quilts),
lives deep mysteries and eventually
dies. The death is always beautiful
in bed breathing—ah ahh—like so, or
in hospital with the inevitable
tubes, machines and motorized
nurses. Whether it comes suddenly
or takes forever is just fine
print. The point is your grandma
dies and you didn’t know her
nearly well enough (but now
that’s she’s dying or dead you wish
you did.) That’s worth a poem
today. Here’s mine: She was born
in 1897, mother Russia, natch.
On her first flight she thought
the wings of the plane would flap.
When they didn’t, she was so scared
and disappointed she never flew again.
My grandfather (making a rare appearance)
disrespected her for such naiveté all
the doodah day. She had Parkinson’s
which made her shake not unlike Elvis
Presley but Nana was beyond comparison
of course. (My grandfather grew breasts
around this time—hormone injections
for a wiener problem—which confused me
unspeakably when I saw him by mistake
undressing.) Anyway, the truth is
I didn’t know Nana well enough cause
I was five, she was sick, plus divorces.
My guess is in full flower she was pretty
average. There were candies at the funeral.