My Gramma, Spunky

My Gramma, Spunky

I won’t know you at last,
spunky girl. I only I sat
in that chair so long

after your fact.

My spunky gramma.
Cancer killed her at last.
But here she is,
with fifty years to go,
1890 or so.
Thinking in German.

Because that’s how
the family thought,
until 1914 or so, when
German became . . .

inconvenient.

I see her shoes. Toes
beaten bare of shoe black.
From kicking against

so many patriarchal
pricks? From having been
passed through so many siblings?

I only know that house.
Our house. Where I loved
to sit, porch swing in summer.
I only know that house,
our house, yours and mine,
seventy years and more

on.

To your right
where I slept often,
frost gathered on the quilts
on winter mornings
when the coal fire
had burned down.

To your right, same room—
since we farmers don’t
ever waste space—
where you slept

all your life,
my mother
born there.

To your right
all the nights of
whatever pleasure
you ever had.

To your left
the room I feared. The room
where your casket sat
after your long suffering.

The room where the light
took your weary face, so old,
so, so dead, to

wherever we
all of us—
after your fact,
after mine, after
all our bustle—

go.

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