Gold Lame

The day my grandmother died
I nominated my older sister to call my mother
To tell her what would surely shake her
Hand over mouth
I didn’t want to watch my mother break
Didn’t want to hear her voice wiggle
Or imagine how automatically she would back burner her own pain to begin resolving the questions being asked
What color casket? Which dress? What lip color?
My mother has a knack for disregarding her own pain

When we arrived to the nursing home
Her body still warm
My mother hugged her
Told her the last of stories
The truth about some things, maybe

I stood outside the curtain certain this would be the moment body spasms would happen or something out of some horror movie
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her
I wanted to remember my grandmother a way I did not know her
A way only the cameras lens captured
In the 50’s and 60’s the life of the party
Bells hemmed into her skirt

The day of her funeral in the town my mother grew in
A place filled with memories none of us wanted to intimately recall
The three remaining women
We sat
Man less
In the front row full of tears
It was then that I wanted to be closest to her
Wanted to smell her Red Door whip through the air
Wanted to know how to marry a good man
Had questions I had never wanted to ask until then

There is something tender about the days following a death
Something lovely about the way we will choose to remember
The way we honor the dead by keeping their secrets
Bury the unmentionable with them

My grandmother was a women I will never full understand but what I know I’m fine with
She wore bracelets stacked so people could prepare for her arrival
Wore gold lame as all divas do and made meals I still miss
Dumplings made from scratch
On holidays I feel her guide my wrist as I mix
Fold potato into milk

Know her better when I’m barefoot and cooking
When I’m dressing for a night on the town
When I catch a glimpse of her shape on my frame in the window I pass by
When my creativity is all I can be
My grandmother made clothes only white women wore
Snuck in stores to see the latest fashions
Went home and stitched equality into wool skirts
She wasn’t allowed to be as honest as this freedom allows me
Born in 1913
Born blacker than she wanted to be
Born poor
So these words
This poem
This stage
The way I wear my life
Loud and effortlessly
This life of art and cell phones
Of internet and fast cars
This bold sass
Is for everything she couldn’t be
Is the party she wasn’t invited to
I hope I sound like her favorite bible verse
Know somebody hears the bells beneath my skirt
Know someone sees her sway in my hips

My closet is an alter smells of incense

My linens still hold her imprint

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One thought on “Gold Lame

  1. I know this isn’t new, but I thought it would be fun to leave a comment, and this one is my favorite. So many lines in it resonate with me and my perceptions of my own grandmother. For example, “Went home and stitched equality into wool skirts”, “Know her better when I’m barefoot and cooking”, and the title line “Wore gold lame as all divas do”.

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