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Disappearing Grandmothers

Barry Dempster
From:   Fire and Brimstone. Montreal : Empyreal Press, 1997


Nana is the one with the Bible
waving in her mauve hand, eclipsing
a perfect summer's day. Grammie
preferred pocketbooks, Valley of the
Dolls, tragedies she could
stuff in an apron pocket.
Sneaking peeks at both made
me equally afraid, all that talk
of sin. Women stripped to salt,
burning up with fevers, ravaged
by darkness, handsome snakes.

Nana, of course, was headed for heaven,
her long white hair tangled
in an angel's toes. But Grammie,
brazen as a magnifying glass,
would be torn to pieces by her lack
of faith, words yanked
off the page and scattered
in countless unhappy endings.

Yet they both died the same, middle-
of-the-night gasps, open windows.
Both bodies heavy as
encyclopedias. Nana's hair twisted
into an anchor. Grammie's glasses
so clean, they weren't really there.

Heaven and hell wore similar expressions,
teeth chewing on the insides of
lips, eyes overwhelmed by lids.
Dead angels or gruesome
dolls. Years later, my mother
was still wearing both their aprons,
her wet hands disappearing into the pockets
like lost souls.



Barry Dempster's works copyright © to the author.


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