to a grandmother, from her grandchild

Yet, I thought we would have more time. I did not think of you often, and when I did I was shamed. I should have forgotten you, as you had forgotten me. I pick up the phone, but there is no number for me to dial. Your voice is foreign to me, and were I to hear yours, I would not know it. I am left, now, with the picture of you in my memory, sickly sweet and contemptuous. Even across the expanse of time I feel it, your discontent.
I consider you for much longer than I should.
I do not wish to send lilacs, to place them on the softness of your grave.
I do not want to clutch your hand as you draw your last breath, to lend you warmth as you still, unseeing.
I do not wish to weaken your cries of mourning, to still them with beatitudes and forgiving.
I do not wish to let you go unknowing, the words I carried for you lost to your grave.
I wish for you to awaken so that I might deliver the words to you, parsed from the wreckage of the things I thought I’d forgotten.
“You were loved
But not by me
You were kind
But not to me
You were loving
You did not love me”
They don’t capture what I want you to leave with. The dryness of my eyes and the bitterness of my heart, the anger for you, and for death. Leave her, I want to command him. I have more to say.
I wish to send you away with the memory of me and could I, I would give you peace. I wish for you whole again and in sound mind. I wish for you to consider, as you pass through the veil, the words that did not pass your lips. I wish for my name to cross your mind and for a moment, I wish for you to feel human and longing. I wish there were a way to draw you back again, to see your eyes knowing, and know that you will miss me, to see the words that you never said, the ones that, with your eternal absence, I am not allowed to say. There are no ears left to hear them and you were always deaf to me. Were you to hear my voice you would not know it.

i will end with words unsaid: I

It would have soured in the ice. I think about those things now, the minute details that were lost before.
He said he’d sent the cake. In my imagining I gripped the phone with both hands, nails bitten tightly to the bed, the frayed cuticles fringing the tiny digits. It would have been cool and uncomfortable against my face, but he would have seemed so far away.
In my imagining he was far, so far away, that I gave him more.
A grin.
A crinkle in his brow reserved for me.
Focus.
He wanted to see me, even through the phone, and he held a Polaroid worn down on the edges and faded on the center, gripped it to him as he imagined me.
“I sent you a cake,” he said. I know he did.
Now I imagine that I offered a toothless grin that he wouldn’t see.
“An ice cream cake,” he continued, and I could feel the cool of the chocolate melting on my tongue, the tough, spongy cake stinging my gums. Time does not exist in my imagining, and so I waited for forever and for a day.
Unforgiving Georgia rays blister and purple my young skin, the red clay soiling my favorite shoes. I wait too long to use the restroom and I almost don’t make it, but I leave the door ajar so that I can see the box at the end of the drive.
Dust obscures me, and rain too, and mosquitos scar my legs, ugly black mottled against the deep brown. The beds bleed and the scalp burns.
I hear his voice, fervent and real, and it does not occur to me that this, the cake, is one of his stories.
I wonder if it will melt before it comes.
It does not come and he does not come.
It would have soured in the ice. It would have melted and I didn’t like chocolate even then. My name would not have been on it.
The phone would have lost our connection and I would have been too embarrassed to tell him that I didn’t like Neapolitan and that I thought the cake had gone bad.
He does not call and it does not come and words, any, are lost between us. Time does not exist in my imaginings, not really, but I do not hear his voice for forever and one day.
When next we speak he has forgotten the cake but it stands between us in my mind, lopsided and terribly stale and not what I want and absent.
Daddy feels thick on my tongue after, and when I say it to him it almost chokes me. I kill the word. It sours and melts down and dies and I watch it scatter and I never say it again.

chamomile, for nerves

I put you away, I know I did.
Last winter’s coats–the one with the button that I should remember to have mended–the kimono that someone bought for her that is too sweet to part with–the scrapbooking that I will take up once I remember to print the photos–I tucked you away in the room no one goes in.
You were to stay there. You were lost, piles of forgotten letters, that ring that I hated but he bought it so I kept it, the photographs of them before the divorce, you were lost.
You were distant enough to be a memory that I could laugh at, over tea (chamomile, for nerves), remembering how you used to show up and ruin me.
You were tucked away for so long I thought you’d be moth eaten and forgotten.

Here you are. The gossamer strings used to bind you still clinging; you grip me tightly to you and you do not ask if I want you there and you do not even care that I’ve made a life here without you. You throttle me and remind me that I am yours and I have always been yours and you weren’t dead, you weren’t even resting, you were just amused by my pretending.

You know me most of all. You lay into me, settling into my brain and reclaiming the space reserved for you. Hot tears spill over my cheeks and I wish that I could end you and I look wistfully over and wonder if they have someone like you, if I am alone, if you will always know me best of all, if I’ve always been in this state of disrepair, if I will have anything to do after I have finished the mending and the scrapbooking and the preserving, if there are things unfinished then I won’t be finished yet.
You care nothing for the sounds you make, the way all the others start to stare.

I put you away. I know I did. You grip me to you swallowing me entire and I fall into you and you become me and, with shaking hands I push away the tea and find and mend the smile that I wear when you arrive and hope that you will tire of me soon and hope that I will be strong enough to put you away again.