Southern Comfort

Apparently today is National Poetry Day? I thought April was all about the poetry, but Twitter says it is National Poetry Day, so it must be true. I’m working on so many unfinished drafts of not poetry, but here’s a poem I wrote about my grandma Norma Jean 15 years ago (FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, WHAT?).

When the yelling
was loud nights, days
found me hiding
between the sofa and the wall
in my mother’s mother’s house.
I could not escape

her presence,
her healing gifts:
a Push-up and a damp yellow
washcloth to cool my burning
hot cheeks. She gathered me
into her lap and talked

of things I loved,
watching birds, riding Papa’s tractor,
picking blackberries and walking
to the store for gum and pop. Before
the Push-up was gone I was
smiling again. The way she

wiped away the sherbet
and misunderstanding I almost believed
that old yellow cloth was magic.
Seems like a century ago,
and now I find myself wishing
for Push-ups and magic washcloths

and the safely of a lap.
This girl could use
a gentle rocking, a cool cloth
against eyes that have seen
too much, and the taste
of orange sherbet

would be a welcome change
from swallowing the bitter pills
that life often hands me.
I have grown up, and wise,
and I know the answers are harder
than this, but my little girl memory

still recalls the color and the cool,
the orange and yellow comfort
of frozen treats and a cloth
so worn and thin I can see
my grandma’s hand through its gauzy threads
reaching out to touch my face.

One thought on “Southern Comfort

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