Friday, October 20, 2017

Armine Iknadossian: Obligatory Grandmother Poem

Whether we ever knew them, whether
they held our hands or burned their bras,
somehow they silently grow into our poems
like gypsum, each one a different color and shape.

We credit them for our idiosyncrasies and diseases,
the likes of which haunt us the same way
their perfume covers everything.

I dare you to think of one pop song
written about old granny, one priceless
work of art reimagining her toothless smile.
Yes, we are sentimental fools,

but writers cringe from cliché,
and a grandmother poem is automatic death
unless she’s Norma Rae.
I pray to you please honor her another way.

Find that tourmaline necklace she passed on,
and wear it for a change. Read her old love letters
to your son, bake her a cake, give your daughter
that god-awful name so popular way back when

she had to store away her feelings like rationed sugar
during that war she suffered through. I remember too
my sweet namesake unbraiding her long dark hair
in her tidy white bedroom. All she ever did

was suffer at the hands of a spoiled husband.
All she wanted was to die, and she passed
that on to me as well. What kind of writer
would I be if I hid that from you

and only wrote poems about her Christmas cookies
and that time she taught me how to crochet?

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