I can see by the fresh startle
in my grandmother’s eyes that she’s slipping
from this earth. All my words float up
and pop like bubbles
before she can grasp
the luster of their meaning.
When I mention the needlepoint crafts
she used to make, my grandma looks confused,
shakes her head like she can’t imagine.
My voice rises against her mumble.
All those gifts of coasters and placemats
were her beauty, her faltered focus
away from the ten children
she raised and estranged with bruises
and battles carried into her 93rd year.
I’m the oldest daughter of her oldest son.
She wants me to tell her where he is,
what he’s doing. Her voice an accusation
I cannot answer, still trying to manage the high-wire act
of sitting in this room on a folding chair.
When my daughter shows the frayed yarn cat
on the table near her bed,
and grandma says, I never did that,
my silence settles like a shroud.