Andrew Coburn
[Total Pages: 9]
Coburn Page 1

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"Do you like the chocolates, Mamie? Each has a cherry inside."
     Grinning, Mamie cleans her fingers on her dress. A pretty dress with zigzags, cusps, and leaflike things which, against the tall starkness of the room, are like scratches and bites. Still grinning, she drops her hands between her knees and cups the caps. Her cheeks bulge with chocolates.
     "Maybe that's enough now, Mamie -- all right?"
     Shrewdly she looks elsewhere, as if she couldn't care less, but before I can lid the box she plunges into it and turns a fistful of chocolates into mud. Then she stuffs her mouth.
     "Mamie, please!"

     A slap would fix her -- the nurses probably do that -- but with one's grandmother one cleans her face with a tissue. It's better to ignore the constant silliness of her smile but to keep in mind that the lame blue of her eyes have crayoned mine -- that, despite the mental gulf, our bodies keep their ties. We are in a windowless yellow-washed room that, with bare table, chair, and bed, is Hopperesque. There is no door, at least none that she can open.
     Our front porch has a broken window with bits of road and lilac reflected in slivers of pane and with wood rimming it like old skin. My great-grandmother, Grammie Marlowe, asks about Mamie and begins to weep. Resting behind the screen in the door, her hair white and wavy with a permanent, her eyes empty except
for the wet,