Every soft surface in Grandma’s suite
made softer with plush toys.
Teddy bears guard the sofa,
expressionless dolls, flop-eared bunnies,
and a lifelike white cat take over the bed.
A rainbow of sticky notes
on the cupboards, under light switches.
Hints in her own shaky hand
or reminders left by Mom.
A list on the fridge door, stuck with a leprechaun magnet:
bread; cream; carrots; Bill died in ’92; call Helen S.; margarine
Would you like some tea? asked and answered a third time
and now I guide her to the kettle.
A dog barks in the hall.
The therapy pups, she says. They come on Thursdays.
A glance at a calendar on the beige wall confirms
she’s got this one right.
She talks about the time
the woodshed caught fire in ’44.
From her bed she heard the hiss of flames,
the pop of logs, and ran
across the stubbly grass
in bare feet and just her nightgown.
I remember our collie. Beautiful girl.
She barked and barked at the fire.
The shrieking kettle calls her back.
Sugar…hon? she asks. My name’s slipped
somewhere too far to reach.
I watch her pour the tea and wonder
why some things stick, like
wadded gum to the mind,
while others burn up,
float away like ash.
by Kim Mannix
Guest Editor’s Note: Heart-wrenching story told lightly, vivid details that convey the everydayness of loss, the mystery of what remains.
Please welcome Guest Editor Laura Foley from March 27-March 31, 2017.