No evil fairy heaped curses upon
this charmed child with hair like swirled
honey, chocolate brown eyes, creamy
skin sweet with kisses. Laughter bubbled
from her, sweet grandchild, long awaited.
Grandmother, overjoyed, wove
dresses from the finest flax, combed
wool for the softest blankets, knit
tiny sweaters until her fingers bled.
Gnarled walking cane in hand, she hobbled
long miles, presented her gifts to the royal family.
Ladies-in-Waiting recoiled at the pungent
odor of the salve spread on Grandmother’s aching
limbs, covered their noses with lace handkerchiefs
while children hid behind their skirts, pointed and
jeered at Grandmother’s simple clothes and manners.
Blushing, her princess daughter turned away,
distracted the court with the antics of her baby.
Grandmother limped home. Soon twisted
vines tightened over her cottage, so far from the palace.
The old woman no longer threw open shutters, lost
hope of seeing her daughter or granddaughter travel
down the slow path in her dark woods.
The curse was on her, Grandmother gifted
with a precious child she could neither see nor hear
nor smell nor hold close.
Anger fueled Grandmother’s stone oven,
with a fire so intense that it baked her into a wrinkled
old crone who hacked away entanglements.
She covered her cottage with sweets--
honey swirls, chocolate kisses, creamy caramels--
waited to lure small strangers inside, ones so delicious
that she could keep them caged, fatten them,
and eat them up.
I have worn your street number
like a hated tattoo--
removal will be painful.
Inspectors say your cast iron pipes decayed
under a slab riddled with fault lines,
like our grieving family.
Nine months to repair,
nine months to say
Notes flutter from every open drawer;
reminders of things lost and found,
found and lost.
What treasure lies beneath layers of labels
peeled from the phone? A number
to reconnect a mother’s scattered thoughts?
At the bottom of a painted wooden bowl.
lie memories of a father’s fingers cracking
pecans with a nutcracker, silver as tears.
no sock left unknotted,
no pocket unchecked.
Many spill hidden riches:
an old letter, a tarnished spoon,
watches repaired by Grandpa’s steady hands.
Bright patches inside faded wallpaper
trace spaces once filled with grandchildren’s art;
stair-stepped little ones once pointed with pride.
Will buyers know there are mismatched door keys
four, the number of children raised here,
5546, a street number,