My Grandmother Speaks of Beauty

I could eat them with a spoon Herman would say
every time he drove the tractor over and saw
them playing on the red dirt bank: they’d climb up
and up and slide down so fast they wore their palms
raw stopping. Suppose there was a pageant among them,
he said, which one would win. I snatched the corn

he’d brought to give and sent him on. That afternoon
I found two of them stripped to their panties, kneeling
over their toys, a naked Barbie on her back pressed
underneath a bear. What are you doing, I said, keep
this door open
. My daughters’ daughters. They blinked
and didn’t say a word. Suppose there was a pageant—

dark-haired girls, all apple-cheeked, eyes green
as the lake. We put them in the fire truck
for the Apple Festival Parade: look at them wave
and toss down their candy. We should have found
a spoon while we could have done it. Now can’t a single
one of them walk past a mirror without looking in it.

 

Note: This poem, which first appeared on storySouth, is written from the imagined perspective of my grandmother Betty. May 1 was her birthday.

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