A mind; shifting

A mind; shifting

Time wrapped its fat hands around my grandmother’s brain,
held it steady in its grasp and squeezed. Her mind, once a dining room
of fine china, teacups and porcelain cavaliers, now a street bazaar,
her treasures strewn, for sale, amongst nick-nacks,
plastic toys and choking hazards.

She knew me still, but only as a child; she asked if I had been left
in the car, said I was too young to be out there alone. The little girl
she spoke of, the one curled like a crab inside my gut,
called out to her, pounding on my eyeballs
until they stung.

Time shrunk my grandmother’s brain, used powerful fists
to drain the juice from it, leaving only pulp behind,
until she didn’t know her own surroundings; though she held
fast her penchant for sweetened tea and a stiff upper lip.

She told me once about a trip to town, accompanied by her own
mother. I could taste the crumbs of their afternoon tea on my lips
when she was done describing it, and I wondered if she had dreamt,
imagined, or remembered that speckled scone,
buttered and split between two.

While her thin eyelids flickered like rice paper, and her head lay
on plastic pillows, she was caught somewhere between the black sea
and the dying stars. Those shrivelled grey cells, a key
to another universe.

Moulded to her armchair like brown-red clay ready for the kiln,
I see her still, dancing through a place in which her mother
lives, still; a place in which her legs bounce, still wrapped
in stockings, and where I am a child, still.

Time took my grandmother’s brain tissue and rolled it between
thumb and index finger, like a fascinated child examining a bug.
I watched as her mind drained like an overused battery,
saw the clothes grow bigger around her waist while her calves
swelled like fat frogs.

You toss aside your pitying looks, mumble your apologies,
but Time stretches out its arms, wraps them like cords around
our necks and calls us all back, into the past. I see her now,
her smile reverberating like violin string as she exists
in a shifting world of her own creation.


This poem appeared in Issue 6 of The Lonely Crowd. See my musings on the composition of this poem in Author’s Notes, or listen to it on Soundcloud.