Grandmother

Ritual

 

When my grandmother died they laid her out

In the dusty, hazy, winter lit bedroom of her house.

The air moved in clouds around the family

Milling around noiselessly.

So we could bend and kiss her goodbye

They lined us up in one long row,

Determined by sex, age and family hierarchy.

Serpentine sprawl through

Long corridors lit by small monkeys

With torches for arms and watchful eyes.

I felt small

Smaller than my skin too loose over my knees my patent leather shoes like boats

With water in them sloshing my feet down the hall

Snaking through these old rooms a lavender tail

Swishing through a chamber lit by God’s spotlight,

The bed, a throne.

I moved out of my body and floated above the bed

Wanting to spit on her face.

Looking down I saw the gleam of her scalp through

Her fine silver hair and one small, daring, ant weaving its own path.

I took out her hairpins and shook her head

Tossing it for her

Cut the laces on her shoes and threw them

One by one

Out the window

And she rose and danced with me.

Danced like a wood nymph

Waved and bounced her dress a curtain that opened to me.

I saw her sorrow, her joy.

her prison.

I kissed her hand like a butterfly would

And sent her on her journey.

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