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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 30, 2018

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Submitted: September 30, 2018





I can still hear my mother’s screaming

buried in the walls.

I am at my grandmother’s house and

I don’t know why,

planted small in my grandfather’s big,

red armchair, under four of his guns

that hang on the wall.

Collectibles, he called them.

He’s dead now.


I only met him once or twice,

but each time I walk to the kitchen I feel

my weight creak the same floorboards

he dragged my mother’s body across.

I hurt in my bones when I see

my mother’s breaking, more easily each time,

the pieces of a human carcass mangled

by his construction worker hands.

I run my fingertips along the calloused paint.

The walls are spotless.

There is blood everywhere.


This house is a time machine.

Sound drifts around corners dented

by a child’s skull, through doors

she sat against, on the other side,

so the monsters — monster — couldn’t catch her.

And somewhere in the incessant droning of

my grandmother’s TV,  the wailing:

“Help me, God help me.”

My mother lost religion when she was fifteen.


I don’t like it here.

In certain spots it is very cold,

like passing through a ghost.

I see things I don’t think I’m supposed to,

terrible, terrible things.

The stairwell at the end of the hallway,

and a girl my age tumbling down.

I won’t say who stood at the top,

hands still braced for impact.


Beside the front door, at the bottom of the

stairs, there is a caricature drawing

of my mother, the paper like skin

spotted from years of sun, tinted lemon yellow,

quite nauseating against the raspberry walls.

I see my face in my mother’s.

We have the same profile, the same sea foam green eyes.


I slept in her bed once,

ironed flat from emptiness,

but made up as it once was by grandmother

who washes the sheets once a week

and replaces them meticulously, teddy bear and all.

Across the room is the closet where mother

shrank herself to become her shadow,

melted into the walls where the war couldn’t find her.

With the door cracked open,

I swore I could see a face,

a face too much like my own.



a fancy word the doctors use when

someone pretends to forget so as to not

be blamed. Truth is so conveniently erased

when it’s only sketched, lightly, as a drawing is,

when it’s bleached away.

But I know well what went on here.

That before his own death,

the day slipped my grandfather’s mind when he

polished off one too many bottles,

held a gun to his baby’s temple

behind the opaque curtains

where no one could see

and no one could hear her,

almost pulled the trigger.


People change, my grandmother says.

She can’t look me in the eye.

That’s not who he was.

But I’m not stupid.

The need to hurt,

to leave a bruise that soils the skin forty

years later, it doesn’t just evaporate.


Grandmother avoids knowledge at all costs.

Knowledge is truth; hers is unforgivable.

This she knows,

and her guilt bleeds dark and heavy like

boxed ears onto the carpet,

scrubbed tirelessly to hide the stain.

Grandmother calls herself a woman of God,

studies me when she prays;

I must remind her of someone,

someone she tried to remove

as if they were wine on a white dress,

but she refuses to remember whom.


I understand now.

This is an act of warped repentance,

though confess she does not.

Since I can remember,

Grandmother loves to play games.

Grandmother loves to play games,

and I look too much like my mother.

Games become reality,

I become daughter,

a second chance to roll the dice.

But Granny, dear Granny,


this isn’t Candyland.

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