For Rita and Faith

This poem is for my two adopted grandmothers

My two temporal angels


For four years of traded stories

On advice highways

Four years of volunteering once a week

At the retirement home


This poem is for Rita

We met in the common room

The steady buzz of your wheelchair

Phone attached to necklace slung

Around your body as a gun is to a returning soldier

How we spoke little but communicated constantly

Carving faculties between

Our age-disparate hands

We spoke through Scrabble

Your body may have been weak

Your body may have betrayed you

But your mind found words

Like the most skilled of archeologists

I think, what I admired most was that you never settled

You pushed me always

That a better word could be found

Excavated from the canyon with trembling fingertips

You won every game we ever played

But you taught me to enjoy the process

Appealing to the mountain, not its peak

You brought me in


And This poem is for Faith

Your voice like liquid honey

Amber thick

Drizzled into caverns of sweeping sound

Your room always felt like a home

Paintings and sculptures intermittent

With records and stereos

It didn’t surprise me when you told me you were a Jazz singer

Because your music still echoed

In your footsteps

Now assisted by a cane

And your lungs were

I imagine

Gusty like the broad strokes of an eagle

Shooting into the sky


Music was always playing when I visited you

Vivid scenery to our conversation

You would pause a new song swelled

Painting in side notes about

Pitch and timbre, and breath

You taught me how to breathe

How to breathe to fill an entire room


For my sixteenth birthday

You gave me voice lessons

With you

I regret now that I didn’t take you up on them sooner


Because

Rita

Faith


I’m what’s left of our long afternoons

Of our weekly rituals

I’m the only one who remembers

I didn’t say goodbye to either of you

Because I was taught

When you stop

You start again

But we didn’t start again


At sixteen

death is a galaxy

Just beyond what I can see

My own mortality is a balloon strapped onto my shoulders


I didn’t see yours shrinking

I didn’t see the collision

Galactic torpedo


What would I do for one more afternoon with you

Backpack heavy on my shoulders

As I knocked on your door once more

Heard the faint “coming” as I shifted on my feet

Greeted you with a hug and a kiss on the cheek


There’s so much I would have said to you

I would have made you tell me everything


I always knew our time together

Bridge of generations

Was constrained

by time and fate and health

But I expect the rope to fray, not snap

Expectantly,

I expected you still here.


This poem is for my two adopted grandmothers

My two temporal angels

This poem is a thank you

Thank you Rita

Thank you Faith

This poem is also a goodbye


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