2.05.2007

grandmother

you crawled from out the dirt of mississippi,
inbred with perfectly set curls and impoverished but clean and pressed dresses,
gap-toothed and matte-skin, ever smiling,
had all your war babies,
maria in the soft grass and crisp white dressing gown,
maria ever the focus of your prayers,
maria,
the name of the virgin goddess,
maria forever frozen, two years old,
the water sucked out of her by the dust

war planes and war marches,
grandfather perpetually overseas,
crawling again in mud
mud of japan,
mud of europe,
mud of korea,
the blood-splattered flag with bullet holes
plastered in his prayers,
the mind full of holes,
eaten away by the terror of having done what no man should do,

coming back, the mind a mess,
full of smoke
and hatred
the anger broke your china and your finger,
francis in the bathtub,
the others huddled in their nightclothes
and every one of them
leaving leaving leaving you
running away and hating you for staying

then another daughter gone,
her darling d's left behind to have their bodies drilled with holes
there are holes in everyone
holes to fill up and always emptying again like a sieve
you filled your holes with prayer,
saying the rosary and reading your prayerbook all day long
in the easy chair
as you decayed
and his mind's holes leaked faster and faster,
growing bigger gaps between knowledge and memory
he died not knowing anything anymore,
not even the burn of war could singe his sallow skin any longer

you coughed and choked,
holes sinking into your throat
catching your words and skewing them

you died on a sunday, a holy day,
prayer bringing you to peace by drifting you off to sleep
and never waking.
they dug a hole to bury you and filled it up up up with mud,
sprayed it with holy water and singing prayers,
keeping you soft and warm,
moist and no longer dry or draining,
the holes of your heart, at least, finally laid to rest.

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