Sunday, December 26, 2010

Watching and Thinking and Staring

Such a serious year it was
with Babbette dying
and all those holidays
without her sitting there
in her chair. The one
my brother sat in
on non-holiday meals of
scrambled hamburger or
shake-n-bake pork chops with
rice-a-roni or pizza porcupine patties.
She wouldn't say much,
just sit there watching
and thinking and staring
like she'd do alone in
her tiny apartment for days
with the TV turned on--though
she couldn't see it those
last few years--But
it was different, the watching
and thinking, the staring;
when it was in that chair surrounded
by her family waiting
for the turkey to come out of the oven
and drinking a 4oz. can of
ginger ale or diet coke sometimes
listening to the common disagreements
between her children, grown up now
still living nearby.
how long she had been with herself
and her curiosities, memories,
concentrations and questions
and had time for them too
whether she wanted it or not
there was always time alone
to scare herself and discover herself
over and again
in that cramped apartment
dingy yellow light
buzzing locks and a big phone
with blinking red lights, the plastic
dancing figurine of Satchmo
by the door, the
dripping faucet, the smell
of nothing ever been cooked,
a staleness, and the red bread box
with the lid that swung down
like a garage door, the window with
the flower print curtains, a dark white
in shadow and below it, that desk
with drawers full of mail and playing cards.
I learned to shuffle a deck of cards
while sitting on the carpet at her house
on the second floor
back when I was little
and she still lived on Eldridge St.
in between games of tic tac toe
and staring at her albums of old pictures
in black and white and some in color.

Christmas night I dreamed
a volcano erupted in my hometown
and I had to commandeer a four wheeler
from a maze of a chicken coop
to get to her,
and when I did I had to let her die
and watch her bloated in the face
not herself
speak morphined nonsense

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