There is no shower in the old house
To clean yourself, you must lay down
And let the water cup your ears
At the dinner table over holidays, summers, long weekends, we staked claim in Crystal or Tobasco. My grandmother would wake at 3am, or as she always said “waked up and just couldn’t go back to sleep.” She didn’t leave the kitchen until she fell asleep in her chair in the evening. “Hello, Thanks a million, She was tremendous!” These are my favorite memories. Sleepily eating eggs, bacon, grits. Watching her march to the dock. Watching her wade with a spear and a flashlight. Fearless. I was always too scared to kill the crickets.
When I think of her gone, I rock with emptiness.
“If you don’t pay attention, you will never learn how to make this.”
My favorites will always be gumbo, black bottom pie, and bananas foster. Light it on fire.
The house she was born in went with Katrina. So did my uncle’s mind.
My grandfather, dead. My other grandfather, dead. My other grandmother, dead.
My father says, “I’m surprised I’ve made it this far.” They were gone long before he married my mother. They were only 23. The church was red roses and white velvet. My mother asked if they would play O Come, All Ye Faithful at the service, but the priest said it was inappropriate.
She idolized her grandmother too. She sewed. Some of the women still have her gowns in their closets. My mother will never get rid of her house. The roof and the porch are mostly gone.
My mother worked at that store for a year so that I could have the dress.
She slept on a white cot with a coat by my father’s hospital bed.
I was on vacation.
My mother, an artist. She filled our home with towers of things. People’s eyes widened when they came over. I thought it was magical, too.
But we were told, don’t you be poor. Not through words.
So my sister went to medical school. And I went to fancy girls school. My sister got married. And I kept my mouth shut.
I moved away. Moved again. And again. I worked at a desk. Made a lot of money. This pleased my parents. Spent a lot of money. This pleased my parents. But what about my work?
I walked to the point. I’m surprised I’ve made it this far! But all I want, is to know that what I did was okay.
There is no old house
To clean yourself
You must lay down