Thoughts from the back deck, after a funeral.

Published July 5, 2013 by April Fox

ImageI wrote this right after my Grandma died. My apologies if I’ve published it here before. 

 

sitting on the floor
of grandma’s back deck
in my funeral clothes
head leaned against the white boards
of the side
peeking out through the screen
waiting for the cows to come back.

my shoes are uncomfortable, 
sitting like this- 
high heels and ankle straps 
twisted around 
but i don’t bother moving 
out of their way.

i used to have these red shoes 
high-tops, canvas 
and every time i wore them over there 
grandma would tell me the same story 
about an old friend 
back in california 
who showed up at a party 
in bright red sneakers 
and everyone laughed 
and thought it was great 
and i made sure i wore mine 
when i went there 
just so i could hear the story 
one more time.

when i needed new ones, i bought black 
and i never heard the story again 
about her friend in california. 
now the black ones are worn 
and i’m buying red again 
and maybe if i try 
i’ll hear her voice in my head 
her chuckle as she told me 
how much she liked my sneakers.

when she was alive 
we sat out here on the deck 
drinking powdered raspberry-flavored iced tea 
out of tall, heavy glasses 
(i used to bite chunks out of her juice glasses 
when i was small and lived with her- 
i don’t know why) 
eating sandwich cookies 
(take two, she’d say, holding the apple-shaped cookie jar 
out to my kids) 
watching the cows in the pasture behind the house 
walking slowly by 
glancing our way with their big dumb eyes 
making her wonder 
every time 
if they were watching us 
watching them.

i can hear everyone inside 
laughing, dishes bumping rudely 
up against each other 
there are people in her kitchen 
looking through drawers for lids 
and ladles 
and rolls of saran wrap. 
i pulled the strings off some snap peas 
for my aunt 
and then i was done.

they put her in a box 
some bizarre fed-ex to heaven 
i know she believed it 
i hope she was right.

one day, a couple years ago, maybe 
the cows were gone. 
we sat outside in the sun 
with our tea and our cookies 
and she said she thought the farmer 
must have moved them.

my funeral clothes 
itchy hose and the necklace i only wear for good 
because i’m afraid i might lose it 
would be getting dirty 
if it was anyone’s house 
but hers.

they carried her out 
four burly strangers in suits 
and carefully arranged 
Expressions of Sorrow 
stoic, like solders for the dead 
past everyone watching 
they all stood and watched her go 
(she couldn’t have weighed eighty pounds- 
i would have carried her myself) 
as if she was the only one 
in the parade.

i saw them coming 
saw the bench in front of me flying up 
and then i am outside 
in the cold 
holding the baby 
while some woman who didn’t know her 
says a prayer 
and we walk away 
and leave our package 
behind.

it’s cold today, 
snowing. 
she always kept the house warm- 
too hot, the others said- 
but after so long, why be cold if you don’t have to? 
and i want to ask 
if her box is insulated 
i can’t think about her in the dark 
i want to take her out. 
i want to bring her home. 
i want to undo time 
and make it pay attention 
to what’s important.

the voices are too much 
too loud, too happy 
their footsteps falling in the places 
her silence leaves behind 
(she used to talk about davenports 
and tramping through the house- 
dinosours, she said 
and warsh) 
and i can’t say what i would give to hear her voice again.

i can smell aunt yae’s cooking 
and i know inside there are people 
who loved her, just like i do 
even the ones i can’t even look at 
they miss her too.

maybe i am simply 
smaller than they are 
less equipped to let go of someone 
gracefully.

she is not here. 
her house is taken over by others 
who don’t know where she kept things 
or that the chair on the right side of the breakfast table 
is hers 
and please don’t sit there. 
there is no malice here- 
i know this. 
this is what they call 
coming together in their grief

but i am coming apart 
in mine 
and i want to sit here as long as i have to 
until the cows come back.

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