jeudi 4 juin 2009

Yellow Vinyl Chair


grandmother,

I never knew you
though we've met in
my dreams, my nightmares

and once when i was three
mama and me, we came to
your door atop an
old brown building
brown brick, gray mortar

mama, pulling me along
in a rush to get it over
and up the first set of
stairs to a hall with
armchair lions

and mama's fear
so palpable
and the lions so
large, i thought
we'd be eaten alive

but the lions
stayed stone
and so did mama's
hold, her grasp of
my little hand
almost hurt

and then the
elevator box
rising up in
three lights

and my age of three
engraved on my
heart and a
big brown building
like a knife in it

and up and up
without talking
no words at all
nothing and then

down the carefully
tended hall to
that flat red door
behind which we'd
find the object of
mama's fear

knock knock
knock knock

we waited until
you appeared in
your lavender suit

you swung open
the door, then
in witch face
peered straight

into my eyes with
a gaze of hate

and all i wanted to do
was escape and say
mama, why are we here?
but i was mute

and ushered in with
cold introductions
and all i remember is
"this is your grandma"

as you pursed your
violet lips tight and
gave me that most
sinful smile, a smile
i knew said
"aha, it's you!"

and then mama
led me through the
blue room into
the smallest kitchen
and bade me sit on the
yellow vinyl chair

and i climbed up
like the good girl
i am, as mama said
"wait here"

it was the hot of
a little kitchen
with no windows
it was sidewalk hot
it was boiling!

and my skin was
slick sweat melting
into vinyl as
yellow vinyl melted
into me

and waiting there,
i swung my legs
to and fro
they didn't halfway
meet the floor

i felt so high up

on the chair and
up up so high
in the building
i could almost
touch the ceiling

until i heard that
shriek so loud
i froze... then
waited in terror
not knowing
what to do

another scream arose
and i knew
i had to

get down
and go


and scooted, sticking
pulling the skin
of my underlegs
peeling up the ridge of
my little shorts pants
and down to the floor
with a thud i went
and ran

and there you were
grandmother
chasing mama with
that five-inch knife
and screaming
"you slut, you
fucking slut!"

and mama grabbed
my hand again as
we coursed around
the queen-sized bed
and a nondescript
blue room i'll
never forget

and out the door
passed the elevator
down the stairs
three-two-one and
passed stone lions
lazing on hot rocks

then out to the
steaming sidewalk where
we rounded the
corner and never
returned again

postscript.
thirty years later, my other grandmother threw
herself from a 17th-story hotel window:
it drove my father to find his only biological child and
to tell her over and over again that she was loved

4 commentaires:

Anonyme a dit…

Wow. It brings to mind my own visit to an unfamiliar aunt at the age of four. I recall my grandmother opening the door, giving me an eye level view of the woman sitting, her large legs with stockings starting below the knee. I recall vivid details of the place years later, yet it was not traumatic, just strange. I can imagine how an incident like yours would register. Makes me want to comfort the child frantically trying to make sense out of the scene. I'm glad your father came back to you.

Love,
Maureen

p.s. I never saw Aunt Til again. I'm in the library, have forgotten my password and am quite fogged.

Moineau En France a dit…

hey, sweetheart, thanks for the comment! i was working last night and pushed publish, but the poem was done... i thought i pulled it back. but when i woke up and found your mail, i went directly to jail and didn't pass go and didn't collect $200 (except from the stimulus but that's almost gone... :>>)))

read it again? it's better! thank you for sharing that incident. ron said last night he saw a twilight zone episode, one of the new ones from the 80s, just like this. i can't forget that terror... my childhood was a mix of scenes like this and idyllic sonnets sung to nature and other children whom i played with... xoxoxoxooxoxoxox

Jan Hersh a dit…

imagery and symbols push the
poem and the child's vision
The yellow hot sticky vinyl places it in real and surreal time.

I love it cherie!

Liz R-S a dit…

Right now I feel so very little .. even helpless. I walked, small, but tough.

You have woven here a terrible but perfect scene of your childhood. One to which I partially relate, one to which I can fully feel and in which I can become fully engulfed. Well done my friend.