Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Grandma, Mickey and Me

“It forks in and out a little like the tongue   
Of that frightened garter snake we caught   
At Cloverfield, you and me, Jenny   
So long ago.”  -- To the Muse, JAMES WRIGHT

Grandma killed many snakes
in her yard by the tavern
when she had to.

She could do anything
and she wasn’t afraid
of anything.
Or maybe she was
afraid of everything
and she’d just done
what she’d had to do.

She wore a cowgirl hat
with a feather roach clip
and earrings with sayings on them
like, “No” and “Well, maybe.”
She wore tight animal print pants,
read The National Enquirer
and swore the pig-boy was real.

Her little trailer sat
just off the road
and we would stay the night
with her when we were young
and play board and card games
and watch TV.

She would sneak over to the
tavern and bring us special treats
like fried tater tots
with ham and cheese inside.

I’d get to sleep
with Grandma
in her “big” bed
and my cousin would sleep
on the couch in front of her old TV,
the bust of JFK,
and her framed photo
of the son she never got to see.

During the day
we’d go off to explore,
especially the train tracks
where we’d imagine hobos
hitching rides.

She’d told me,
“the bees are out,
thicker than molasses.”
And to “be careful. 
Just be still
when they come near you.”

And I was,
except when
my cousin distracted me
by making me laugh
and I swatted my arm
and got my first bee sting.

It hurt
but I knew Grandma
could take care of it.

We wove our way back
to Grandma’s where she
plucked a leaf from her
aloe vera plant and squeezed
some of the gel out onto the sting.
It was better than new.
She could do anything, like I said.

Pig-boy might have even been real.
You never know.

© 2014 Jennifer Wagner

A couple of days ago Grace presented us with the work of James Wright.  She said we can use a “line of verse as a jumping board” and to “feel free to explore where your muse takes you.”  My poem isn’t the same subject as the one of Wright’s that I springboarded from, but it’s where my muse lead.  I think I went autobiographical because of Wright’s simple family roots and of course, “Jenny.”


Tank said...

Magnificent! One of my new favorites of yours - what a rich story, nice work...

Tank said...

And your Grandma was such a rich character

Brian Miller said...

ha. cool. she sounds like quite the character...and a bit of magic to her as well....sounds like a fun place to visit as a kid....

Namrata said...

Your grandma sounds cool all with those cow boy hat and animal printed pants. As well she is endearing and brave. Nicely pulled off. :)

Susie Clevenger said...

I would have loved to meet your grandma. She had style and attitude...wonderful poem!

grapeling said...

brought me there, Jen. thanks ~

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, what a charming picture. I felt like I was inside a Fanny Flagg page. My grandmother believed everything she read in The National Enquirer.

Unknown said...

Your reminiscences of grandmother and childhood are beautifully, thoughtfully wrought. I felt the love and joy.

Grace said...

I know that aloe vera plant can cure a lot of stings and bites ~ Love the colorful character of your grandma, and very courageous to kill those snakes ~

Thanks for linking up with Real Toads Jennifer ~ Have a good week ~

Wendy Bourke said...

Such a lovely ballad-esque ode to a unique and self-reliant woman - and a very special time in your life. Your narrative talents are very special, Jennifer. You are able to conjure forth aspects of that time as a child would perceive their importance - rather than how an adult would recollect them. That perspective puts the reader right there, back-in-time – as if in a storybook. I would put this piece - because it is so wonderfully drawn - up there, with some of your best work.

Margaret said...

I agree with Wendy! Truly a fabulous piece. My favorite type of poetry (and the hardest for me to write, unfortunately, is story poems. You made your grandmother "real" for me.

rudraprayaga said...

The poem has turned a good read.

Kathryn Dyche said...

Such a feel good read . . . love the nostalgia of this and how you depict your grandmother. Such wonderful memories.

Jody Lee Collins said...

What an imagination, Jennifer!

brudberg said...

What a great way to spend your summer.. and the first bee-sting.. I still remember mine, but nothing as grand as aloe vera to soothe.. what a nice way to bridge from the inspired poem..

janetld said...

What an interesting person, your grandmother! I love all your details here, expertly crafted.

Kim M. Russell said...

I love what you've done with the line from James Wright, and that description of Grandma is superb:
'She wore a cowgirl hat
with a feather roach clip
and earrings with sayings on them
like, “No” and “Well, maybe.”
She wore tight animal print pants,
read The National Enquirer
and swore the pig-boy was real.'