The sky is lavender and glowy pink, a Technicolor I wouldn't believe. My daughter is sleeping in the back seat. Soon I'll have to pull over, check her for sweat because the AC is broken, and wipe off her drool. Beside her booster is a list of words her great-grandmother gave her. Cowpox, Geyser, Micron. She was told to look up their meanings. She cheated and asked me. I couldn't tell her. A micron, I said, was something small. Cowpox was a disease. A geyser shoots water. Like a pistol? She asked me. I don't know, I said. I felt hot and stupid.
When we visited her, my grandmother was in a garden. Not her own, a courtyard. She could take care of herself, she always could. I remember those word assignments. When her daughter was dying, she took me to the hospital to show me the tubes. She pointed to the tubes, to the body parts, and was careful to use the correct words. She was tall, at least a head taller than the doctors. Even now, although she is shrunken, she is clean. Her teeth are straight and close to white.
It doesn't matter, I told her. She left me for a man who fucked me.
Never use that word, my grandmother said. It's a vile word.
In the courtyard my daughter sat on a bench and played Scrabble with her great grandmother. I put straw hats on their heads. They grunted. They are both freckled and fair.
I am thinking a lot of things. About how my grandmother would not believe the sky. And how my mother, if she were here, might wake me, if I were my daughter, to show me the Western horizon and the bluebonnets along the highway. Although she probably would have called them bluebells. She never knew the right names for things.
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