July 27, 2009

Amie Whittemore

THE CALENDAR

When my grandmother died she stopped making sense.
She refuses to remember she’s dead.
She crashes family gatherings, pesters the tenants in her old house.
It’s hardest in April when her birthday snags her like a loose seam—
                        the special day cake, the tally of cards in the mail.

I told her to stop.
One blue eye watered, one eye fell out.
When I woke I was holding her,
snared in the morning after her husband died,
knotted in each other’s throats,
my arms girdled around her waist.
It took months for her to slip through the sieve of months—

                        The first calendar arrived the next year, a note slid
                        from her side of eternity to mine.
                        She tells me she hates its datelessness, misses memory—

first kisses, lost marbles, broken legs, farms sold, resold, divorces set.
Dough rising. The warm crowd of days.

Now her face slides off her face. Now she upsets me when I find her
organizing my recipes, rearranging the spices.

I yell at her. I draw a shade
between her insistence and the sleet grey of winter months,
the sun-slate of summer.

I can only stand her in the spring—

The tulip world of new birds and leaf bud,
the swans she once fed webbing her name across the river.

Her face no longer a jar holding a face.
Her face the globe of a peony.

I sink into its scent as she once did,
read the petals until May ends
then I let the wind bow her head into its hands,
her face a patina over mine, cracked in two—
one half, steam rising from the river.
One half the frozen glare of a severed hoof in the snow.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008
Rattle Poetry Prize Honorable Mention