Life and Death Matters

You recall the way the sunlight came
through the window of a certain room, the peculiar
mustiness in the air, the feel of the upholstery
on the sofa, but you can’t say what color
the sofa was or why you were there or
where you meant to go next or for what reason.

You recall a formica table top and Grandma
dealing you four aces, what’s the most you can
bet, again? pushing your three pennies to the center
of the table like they were mounds of gold and jewels,
and Grandma with grandmotherly wisdom folds without
even drawing and the best hand you’ll
ever be dealt never gets played.

That sequence and images of Grandma’s double
takes when somebody one-upped her and the
sly look she had when she was about to turn
the tables, the deliberate way her hands had
with a deck of cards or a scrabble tile or
a cookie cutter, the way she cleaned a room
moving a little slow and stiff, that’s what you
have left of her. It may not seem like much
but it’s all good and it will do.

When other ghosts have been taking shots
at you, you’re feeling a little lost in the middle
of your own history, at a loss for understanding,
she’ll take you to a place where history
and understanding are unimportant.

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