My Grandma Bossed the Animals
‹For H.H. 1908-2005
You never sat in a chair, but rather teetered
on the arm, wringing your fingers, ready to go.
Once as I slept the deep sleep of teens, you snuck in
and ironed my underwear. You guessed--
as we stood squinting amidst the racks of pastels
at the Express one spring, me in black lipstick
and jeans with the ass patched in duct tape--
"Yew don't like bright colors much, dew yew?"
And Miss Hilda, you could eat, skinny as you were
I never saw you not go back for seconds,
thirds and pie--grinding catfish and divinity
down fast, thoroughly, quietly, like a teeth machine,
like a marble mortar. The black cat Julie brought
vexed you good, the way she'd leap straight up
onto the always tumbling dryer and onto a pile
of clean clothes awaiting your trusty iron,
ignoring you and your no's and your shoo's.
But you loved that sneaky cat--the lithe, inky
flash sure had your number--she was always up
to something. You followed close in your housecoat,
steadfast, in as much a flurry as a hummingbird.