Goodbye Granny Robinson
After midnight yet the room can’t sleep
bedclothes rearrange themselves, some fall,
a painting on the wall so monochrome and still
when it was young begins to feel the pain of shaking limbs
wind rising through it’s trees, as from an open balcony
as if on cue a chilly breeze gusts in with sounds of hills.
Window frame fingers pause into the latch
while from a face of star-blown curtain, eyes look out
past rushing silhouettes to lamps of nearby cottages
that flicker through the leaves
The rug bunches, gathered on stone floor
it knows something is wrong. Beyond the half opened door
a dog’s blanket scratches itself, fleas hungry for warm fur.
Down a flight of stairs the desk lamp glows
a glow of many sleepless nights. The manuscripts, piled
high on shelves and stacked in heaps alongside stairs,
somnambulists themselves, consider this and that
a word, a phrase that might perhaps be expressed a different way.
It’s going to be a long night, the kitchen clock ticks,
trembles through the minutes. In the garage her car,
its rubber treads uneasy, looks through its mirror
past the open gate to the street, so empty now
where only a faint trace of ambulance exhaust hangs in the air
reluctant for a second, then rushes red tail-lamped down the hill.
Feed the cats, she wrote, their food is in the yellow bin
except for Sweetie, she has no teeth left and needs to eat
the contents of half a can from the bottom shelf in the pantry.
The doggie gets a cupful of kibble from the green bin, please
wash the bowls before you fill them and flush away any ants.
The windows need to be cleaned only once a fortnight, change
my bedclothes even if they still seem fresh. I like the fragrance
of washing powder that lingers, and the warmth of sun-dried
clothes on the line next to the climbing pink roses.
Oh and don’t forget to water the garden, it’s almost automatic:
leave the first faucet on for half an hour, then close it and open
the second one for a similar time, you should hear the sprinklers
swirling from the bedroom. Please leave the window half opened
and draw the sashes back. Did I ever tell you how sweetly the birds
warble at precisely half past four in the morning, better than the
nicest Mozart sonata, first a lone blackbird, then the robins join in
and some fellow out there beyond the pond often adds his three-toned
flutes, I wish I could see him to identify him.
Phone me in the nursing home when you’re through and tell me how
things are with you. Are you still leaving for boarding school
in September? How will I ever manage without you? If I don’t answer
leave a message with the nurse. If I’m not there, I’ll be paddling
my canoe down God’s river. Give my love to your brother and tell
him that I said to be careful with that bike.
Please take your pocket money from the tea tin on the kitchen sideboard,
if there’s insufficient change you may round it up to the nearest dollar.
In a yellowed notebook she finds her grandmother’s voice again
whispering through the spider web of her fine-nibbed pen, sees again
her brushed sunlight golden bobby pins and there at the bottom of the page
a wisp of granny’s favorite cologne—dry as a fragrant teardrop
as she lies tucked under her blanket recalling how she would read her
yet another page softly turned…
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© Johnmichael Simon