A very different grandmother from me

In this loving, quirky tribute, my favorite line is “she believed in heaven / as I beleive in wing nuts.”

An incidental report on my grandmother’s divinity

My grandmother had fourteen children,
56 grandchildren, 57 great and one
great-great and a packet
of coffee in her coffin and a love

for the church that anyway had the roof
tarred on the day of her funeral.
She was 87 and weighed
82 pounds and one of her children

asked where the will was and another
did the stations of the cross
for the first time in 32
years, a journey familiar as breath.

The priest performed the Eucharist with arms
outstretched
crucifixion style, the roof boomed
and back-talked and a little girl

with Down’s turned in her pew
and smiled combustively. Many men
wore suits and many men
wore jeans, one a Saturn jacket, one

a Buffalo Bills windbreaker
and he didn’t kneel at the kneeling
parts, that’s optional now, he sat back
and kissed his pink-haired

girlfriend and the roof shook,
stained glass rattled. My grandmother
was a cornucopia, an ocean, from her
sons and daughters flowed, accountants

and junkies, she was responsible
for an Everest of diapers
and remembered all the names
because she was a god, her reflex

was to smile even as her children fought
over her body, the flesh of a few
dollars, she believed in Heaven
as I believe in wing nuts

and the church smelled of tar,
the church saved a few dollars and she
was a god, she said she would die
in six days and did and her children

can fight over loneliness now.
The church can go on its watertight
way, its between the Earth
and my grandmother now, what

the future is, how love is construed,
she and my grandfather will mix
despite their miracle coffins, something
must give to pressure, their trickster

souls will seep out and no one
will know where they go, not
church or children, God or the weather
service, and the chatter of the village

they created will abate as my grandmother
makes a cup of coffee for her husband,
finally they can watch the steam
rise and kiss where the age spots

were, all the ticklish parts
that haven’t belonged to them
since the first child emerged to screams
of holy insistence

Bob Hicok

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