My Grandma

My grandma sat beside the stove and slope-rimmed scuttle

Enveloped in a wooden rocker and an Afghan shawl or throw.

Her hair was black as coal. And always was.

Her legs were saplings clothed in sagging, heavy


Opaque, and with a hint of orange.

And on her feet, a pair of leather lace up shoes.

Thick heeled and made for sturdy work.

A shoe as sensible as she.

Her housedress hosted tiny, faded violets;

It was a dress she might have made.

Or worn forever.

On every lintel was a

Withered palm or two

With dust and dancing doily webs ensconced.

And nearby, pale Jesus, limp upon a cross with crown of thorns

And frightening hearts of red with spikes and barbs

And shooting gamma rays like something science fiction.

It was all mystery

To my untrained soul.

She never weighed but 90 pounds,

I heard the grownups say.

As if that were achievement

And not result of orphan deprivation.

I caught her once late night

A nip of liquor in her hand

It’s for my heart she said. Medicinal.

I learned so few things from her

That was one

About Llyn De Danaan

LLyn De Danaan is an anthropologist and author. She writes fiction and nonfiction. Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman's Life on Oyster Bay was published by the University of Nebraska Press. She is currently a speaker for Humanities Washington.
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