At the rosary my grandmother is at the casket having a conversation with the container that once kept my grandfather’s soul. At this moment she does not know about the role of the mortician that prepared my grandfather’s body after his unexpected death. She is not aware of the slippage of unpaid bills, bills she will never pay, because she never learned to read, not even in the Spanish of this out-loud dream. She has blocked out of her memory the time Tata cheated on her, with her own sister, and the birth of my uncle Johnny. Still, she is cleansing my grandfather’s frozen face with the holy water blessed by the priest from the catholic church down the street. She is wiping the water into the cold flesh, around the hands, fingernails, and then the mouth. Avre en
la boca, she says, open your mouth and drink.
—from Rattle #24, Winter 2005