Everyday after school in third grade
Grandmom Mary would pick me up
In her battered brown Pontiac,
Wearing a cheap fur hat
And costume jewelry she swore was real
Swearing at passing cars
And argueing with Paul Harvey
On the radio.
I would stay at her apartment for hours
'Till my Dad picked me up
Being spoon fed florescent Spaghetti O's
And flat soda through an old, oft used plastic straw.
Her small, second floor home was trimmed
With junk I only ever saw at garage sales.
Clipped newpaper articles
About the good fortune of strangers
Were crookedly hung with tape on the walls
And worthless glass and plastic figurines
Sat on the ledge leading up the stairs
Wearing a vail of dust
Chipped and faded by my curious younger fingers.
Every piece of stained furniture reeked
Of Grandmon's life long smoking habit
While fumes of the BenGay
That sat next to the glass
That held her dentures
Lingered outside the bathroom
She only ever stopped talking
Long enough to cover me with blankets
On ninety degree days
And between pressing the channel buttons
That were sticky with the treats
My mother forbid me to eat.
Grandmom Mary was forever talking over
Of Nightrider reruns and soap operas
With her complaints of fantom pains
And her empty change purse
And telling me of her days,
Long since gone,
Of working at a bakery
In downtown Princeton.
I developed the routine
Of ignoring her,
Over our card games.
I always wiped her wet kisses off my cheek
Not caring if she saw.
There were so many stories she told
And eventually her only listener
Was Pat Sajack
Who she would doll up for
With too much rouge.
There were so many stories
I left the room for
Played outside for
Turned up the volume for.
I lost every detail of those stories
An old woman tells to brighten
Her lonely life.
I had heard them all
I wish I had taken the time
To listen to her
All those afternoons
Because by the time Grandmom Mary
Could not remember any more
Neither could I