Ann Has Expired

Hearing the ring first
in the middle of sleep,
I slipped the phone
into the cradle as
my mom spoke
to the stranger.
Crawling back
into the twin bed
between my sister’s
two to safe harbor
from the October chill,
I wondered what
I had heard meant.

I was sixteen when she died.

My memories of her are
rich, embellished, fine;
she was a sable fur that
lay languorously across a
settee on Park Avenue
for someone else to store.
She helped us escape
routines of dull suburban
Saturday afternoons
enchanting us with meanders
through forest and untraffic’d
roads in a 1968 red Mustang,
stopping for cones or root beer floats.

Her nails were polished pink, her cologne: Chanel.

My grandmother has come back
to me thirty-six years later
on a motel’s note paper
that I don’t recognize.
Her verse betrays her heart,
and in images that I don’t connect
to her, she comes alive in me
as I wonder about the presence
that inspires gorgeous feeling
in a fantastic merry-go-round
love that she writes about.

She was a poet. 

To this I cling, thrown back
to the narrow child’s bed
in a dark room full of
my younger sisters' sleep
undisturbed by the night call.
Grief finds me now
when I can’t fathom
who this woman was that lived, 
too young my sweet years then
to wholly know.

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