by Nola Garrett

I never saw my grandmother twice
with the same colored hair.
Instead of the world, she traveled the spectrum— 
Tahitian Brown, Romanian Gold, Irish Red—
without even the pretense of reclaiming
tints once hers.
                          I was so embarrassed,
my teenaged self was mortified.

My grandmother after years of misdagnosis
died.  Rather than her liver,
it was her heart after all,
                                        but who could tell?
As for myself, one October afternoon
when earl snow on my unraked leaves
looked like me peering out of my mirror
at an old self, I wasn’t quite ready.  Yet,
my staid self departed on Light Brown # 7.

During my afternoon walk, I may have found
a geode.  Gray, hunched, a little off-center,
it could be opened, perhaps to a scatter of sand
or to an amethyst vault,
                                       or left alone
like both my grandmothers.  Oh, they married,
raised their share of children, but as widows
their lives began.
                             Neither was a Mrs.— 
just Belle and Marie.
                                   Belle for a living
sewed and mended, reused her basting thread,
played church piano, read, bathed at her kitchen sink
with multi-colored soap slivers.
                                                     Marie watched
TV evangelists, favored her richest son, dyed her hair
a different color every month, window shopped daily,
preferred rhinestones and orange.

Disliking dogs, sticky children, and old men
Belle and Marie each slept away
in their small lavender rooms.

I smile.  I whisper back to them
my middle name—Maribel. 


ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+