Swimming —— At Twelve
Ribbons of leaves provide shade
out back where my grandmother
likes to rest on a chaise lounge.
I comb her whisper white hair
without hairspray anymore, without
the curls on her forehead that made
two extra eyes. Her eyes have sunk
into the hollows, lids closed. I can see
though tissue-thin skin to skeleton.
I know what girls are not told
and I don’t even have the words for –
how her 38 inch bust flops down
over time, turns into flattened tires,
how moss grows into an old mind.
I know the embarrassment of “accidents”
drowned by nervous giggles. I told Mom
if Bin would come to live with us,
I’d help care for her. I’d no idea.
I’ve cut her food into little pieces
she can chew. I’ve snapped when
she won’t come to bed. She wants
to climb stairs that aren’t there,
to visit her mother. I’ve lifted her
from the ground, and turned from
twelve to seventy. Bin’s hair falls
from the comb. Yet as she lies asleep,
the sun’s orange rays penetrate
through the trees into her cells.
She is like a world peace. Dying
might be as beautiful as pink blossoms
that drop onto the peach patio.
For the first time, I understand
what love feels like. It is
this moment I will store.
Copyright © 2015 by Carrie Albert