What She Remembers

by Britt Allen

Tomorrow, my grandma turns 79.

Today my grandma asked what day it was,
When my husband and I were finally going to get married,
If her birthday was tomorrow or not,
What day it was.

Yesterday my grandma lost her eyesight,
Her hearing, her body’s insulin independence.
She lost ease between the joints
Of her fingers and her knees.
She lost reading.

Yesterday my grandma lost her way home from church.
She lost her driver’s license and her
One-eyed pug. She lost
Another sister.

Yesterday my grandma let my dad move into her second bedroom
And we slept over every other weekend. At Grandma’s we got
Our own bag of popcorn and two dollars for the dollar store.

Yesterday my grandma came home to a spotless house and told her two sons
“That’s great, but I don’t have any money.”

Yesterday my grandma got a positive pregnancy test
And kicked her cheating husband out of the house.

Yesterday her mother died at 52.

Yesterday my grandma cared for her mother
Dying of MS, gently pushing her mother’s throat
Up instead of down–the right way to help
A helpless person to swallow.

Yesterday my grandma didn’t move to California with the love of her life,
The boy with the big laugh in the dark movie theater,
Even though he loved her and even asked.

Yesterday my grandma dropped out of high school.

Yesterday the seventh grade teacher lifted my grandma out of her desk,
Forced her to stand for the spelling bee and spell “I.”
“Can’t do it” my grandma spat and went back to her seat.

Yesterday it rained.
My grandmother and great-aunt grabbed their raincoats,
Raced out the door and into the street puddles,
Braids swinging, screeching bits of musicals,
Laughing and splashing to a white house a mile away
Where Grandma McBride had already stoked the stove
And Grandpa McBride peeled apples in one long slice.

::

Britt Allen (she/her/hers) is a recent graduate from Utah State University, where she got her Master of Arts studying Literature and Writing to supplement her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. She teaches freshman composition for the university and is interested in the eroticism of violence in female confessional and lyric poetry, contributing her own experiences and voice with her art. Her first chapbook, Harvest, was published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press.

Image: Tim Mossholder

Image description: a wiped black board still showing streaks from chalk.

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