March 22, 2013

At Grandma’s House

The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat—
That’s the poem’s real name, not The Duel.
Duels come with pistols, rapiers at best.
This cat and dog, they ate each other up!
(The poem is all that’s left of them.)
Grandma’d read it to me even after I could read it for myself.
I’d grab The Family Book of Best Loved Poems
from beneath the taped-up dictionary she let me use for Scrabble
and thumb to the very spot.

Speaking of Scrabble… We’d play at night with the grown ups,
but my favorite was Chinese checkers in the afternoon.
Slide the traps, loose the marbles ‘cross the tablecloth.
I’d skip this board all day, one star point
to another, if you’d let me, but potatoes
wait in the kitchen.

Speaking of potatoes… I got to cream them.
Shove the beaters into mated slots, mash the button,
and wow! Vibrations shimmy up my arm
in humming aggravation. I could giggle if the job weren’t so serious.
Below me in that bowl lie potatoes, milk, and butter.
It’s up to me to make the magic with a flick of my wrist.

Speaking of magic… I’m no believer, but
at Grandma’s house time slowed down (I swear it), a clock tick
every second. Beaters spun; marbles hopped.
Pages turned ‘neath oily fingers.
Grandma could spell any word you never heard of.
At Grandma’s house we didn’t grow old. No matter
how tall I rose, how low she hunched,
we were no older than
the gingham dog and the calico cat.