Vignette: Mimi’s Closet

The fabulous Iris Apfel. Like Iris, Mimi, my grandma, wore large framed glasses and chunky jewelry. Unlike Iris, who shared many of her secrets, my grandma kept hers close to her heart.

 

Mimi’s Closet

by Shannon P. Laws

 

The door at the end of the long hall stands open
The third bathroom is in there
Sent to the room by my mother’s voice
busy behind the door of the second
common bathroom, the guest bathroom
Go use Mimi’s
I obey

The faint gold light
from a bedside lamp whispers
as I step twice into the space
Her closet door is open, just a little
Moving toward the closet my arm reaches out
to feel inside
to find her secrets

These are her uniforms
her suits of clothes and character
Rich hand-me-downs with East Coast labels
—meant to impressed me, even at 13

I am too far, too deep, too close to the truth
my ears give a quick check
All family members are engaged
in after dinner conversation
at the other side of the house
No footsteps in the hall
I can quickly look
touch a few
view the hieroglyphs
decipher the ridges
in her shoes

A shriveled fox head snaps at me
with sunken eyes from the top of a fur wrap
I sense the ghost of a guard
standing attention blocking me from the
colors, textures that hang in the back just out of reach

My bladder and a toilet flush down the way
remind me why
I’m there

Use the bathroom
then leave
don’t touch anything
mind your business

As I turn to capture one last look
I see her desk
a round breakfast table
paired by two chairs
with woven wood backs
Yellow chains of jewelry, keys, papers
laid out with books and pens
There’s a tube TV, two large leather jewelry boxes
on the long low dresser in front of the bed between
two dark lamps
Under the bed, I spy boxes of canned soup

Who gets all this when she’s dead?
My aunts will consume anything of value
Strangers at the Goodwill get the rest

 

 

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Rant: Judged Conversation Overheard on the Bus in August

 

Judged Conversation Overheard on the Bus in August

by Shannon P. Laws

 

The sidewalk on Magnolia sticks to my shoes
Maple Tree sap bleeds from the high branches
It’s not enough to stop me
I have a bus to catch

It’s early morning-cold. Crisp air flies in from open slit of bus windows in position for the promised afternoon heat. Wednesday morning in August and downtown is quiet.  Half the town seems closed. Most are somewhere enjoying the last days of summer.  Anywhere else but downtown Bellingham. Only the sounds of a traffic light clicking green and a seagull. The gull stands like a superhero on the top southeast corner of Mount Baker Apartments
barking orders
waking us up
sounding reveille
few listen

Two ladies get on the bus.
They don’t live here.
I know it.

They are the only known tourist on the 3

Oh good, they are sitting behind me
She must be a grandmother
“Are you warm enough?”
The other perhaps a daughter
“Yes, I have my LL Bean on”
They don’t know
what’s coming

Then, it starts—

For 25 years I’ve been getting a mammogram every two years because my mother had breast cancer.

She continues to talk about cancer the way old people talk about cancer
the same way middle-aged people talk about the weather
the same way younger people talk about nothing in particular

The list of what’s wrong with grandma’s body rattles off like the description of a 2001 Dodge Durango I am forced to read:

There’s a new growth of cataract in my left eye, arthritis in the knees effecting my suspension, my liver is having problems, might be backed up.  Recent scans show no blockage in the arteries.  Hips replaced.  Doctor recommends a colon flush.  Hypertension makes me jerk to the left from time to time.  Engine still strong. Overall I’m in good shape

“For sale $500 obo”

 

 

 

Poem: Girl Chases Hat

girl hat

Late night keys dangle in the wind

clouds move along the sky river

wind swirls low to pick up anything

not tied down, not held down

 

There goes her hat!

 

The thing that will keep her warm tonight

stomped by feet of shoppers, rejected as trash

her hat, made for one head.

Rain wets it.  Street oil soaks it.

 

She crosses into traffic, leaps toward the gift knitted

a story just for her. Grandmother’s poem rings

as fingers reach for the flying  thread

as long as a blood vein

 

by

-Shannon P. Laws

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