Back then, a grandmother was born brined
in wintergreen and eucalyptus liniment.
Her neck was wattled. Nights, her teeth
with their fake gums bobbed in a fluted glass.
When you arrived at the novelty of her house
from your apartment, you raced up her porch steps,
through her front door, her dining room
with its lemon-oiled breakfront and roll-top desk,
her yellow kitchen with the Bakelite radio
on the sill, the red-and-white-checkered tablecloth;
then out the back door, around the house again.
Crouched in her backyard, making funerals
for dead ants your big sister stepped on,
you knew Grandma would someday be buried
next to Pa with a small headstone matching his,
like the headboards of their twin beds.
But what you believed was that one day a door
in the sky would open. She'd limp toward it.
Pa would stand in the doorway, round and pale
as ever, waiting.
Rochelle Shapiro's novel, Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. Her short story collection What I Wish You'd Told Me was published by Shebooks in 2014. Rochelle has published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as Mudfish, Westview, The Iowa Review, The Doctor TJ Eckleberg Review, Stone Path Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, among others. Rochelle's poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability. She currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension.