- Kaddish for Grandma Irene
In my dream, her bony body is naked underneath a dress of translucent leaves. The knobs of her knees are burls of a willow tree. I place the paper cutout of a blackbird on her left shoulder. In an open green field, we drink warm milk from cracked teacups painted with tiny yellow birds. She unknots the twine from a blue Rosenbloom’s cake box. I remember sugar cubes perfectly stacked in her silver caddy. Its delicate silver tongs. One lump or two, angelah? The way she would sing to me in Yiddish, Shlof, shlof, kindela. She was shaky, made of glass. I was sparrow-like, terrified that even so small I might break her. Her heart pieced together with string saved from 1930s Pittsburgh, from that Hill District row house where seven children shared two bedrooms. All those socks and sweaters darned for her six younger siblings. All those beatings by her mother with a washboard or wooden spoon. Her father, the cantor, practicing for Shabbat service, Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu. At the Monroeville Mall she bought me my first purse, flowered and pink with a silver clasp. Oy! It’s exquisite, kindela, she said. Tearing up, she pinched my blushed cheeks. In her leafy dress she is the green field, her white hair catching flecks of dusklight. From a phonograph, Billie Holiday’s voice scratches, I’ll be seeing you. Grandma closes her eyes and sings. The blackbird on her shoulder flies away. [End Page 53]
Heather Quinn is a poet living in San Francisco. She has been published in the Rockhurst Review and Floating Holiday Magazine and will be published in the soon-to-be-released 2016 edition of the West Marin Review. She cofounded a peer-led poetry workshop that has been meeting monthly since 2002. She studies often with poet Kim Addonizio.