"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 --
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
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
for the wet,