Gram

poem & photo by Elizabeth

DREAMING OF GRAM

It was the way her eyes rolled 

as she flashed her pack of cigarettes
while I was explaining the impact of 

environmental illness, as if anyone who 
acknowledged the body’s needs, who didn’t 

do what they wanted despite physical 
limitations, was a whiney little roach

as evidenced in her smoking while sporting
an oxygen tank for advanced-stage emphysema—

I’d had it with the family code of fuck-your-body-
till-it-drops exemplified by our matriarch so I

got in her emerald eye-shadowed face framed with
brilliant orange hair and said: I don’t like you and if you 

want me to feel anything positive about you when you die, 
you need to demonstrate a shred of decency now

then I stepped to the other side of the bed.

Perhaps she rose from where she’d 
crouched between bed and wall and left, 

but for me, she disappeared.

Thank you to the editors of riverbabble for first publishing this poem.

Trees

photo by Elizabeth

Years ago, my friend dreamt she was a camp counselor leading a group of children through the forest. She woke herself when she exclaimed aloud: “Trees are our friends!”

Frank Lloyd Wright, Stanley and I agree.

photo by Elizabeth, Flat Stanley loves the redwoods

Taken

flash fiction, pastel sketch & photo by Elizabeth

TAKEN

I’m haunted that it happened here. Thought this was a safe community. Yet Tammy took that woman’s diamonds, clothes, and almost took her life. She starved that poor woman under the guise of helping a shut-in. Tami helped herself instead. 

Never met the woman even though she lived across the street. Didn’t even know she was there for the longest time. Nice home but I thought it was deserted—blinds drawn, never saw anyone go in or out. That is till after I heard Tammy tell a neighbor, “…poor thing…broke her hip…no, no children…needs help.” After that I saw Tammy walking a runt of a dog that trembled and skittered as she drug it down the street till it did its business then half-choked itself lunging against the leash toward home. I’d see Tammy go in around dusk and leave not much after with bags in each hand and always two more tucked under her arms. 

I’m embarrassed I didn’t think about it till the deputy asked if I’d seen anything unusual. This was right after the woman’s son came. Apparently she did have a child and he fired Tammy and packed what he could in this tiny trailer hitched to his cigar box of a car. The deputy asked what I’d seen—wanted to know how often Tammy was there, if I’d noticed her wearing fancy jewelry, or how much weight my neighbor had lost the past few months. But all I’d seen was brown bags and that scaredy-dog and how skeletal that woman looked in her boy’s arms when he carried her to his car.

Thank you to the editor of Doorknobs & Body Paint for first publishing this piece.