I love my grandmothers house. It is a wonderful place. The smell of the trees growing outside in the woods that surrounds us. The muffled sound of fire crackling in the wood stove, the steel holds it in like acid in its belly. Fruit and vegetables lay scattered next to her cutting board, ready for the next meal. We are always cooking. The dogs are always panting, waiting for the scrap's, they always get them. She has old eye's with glasses so she can use them. Use them to read, She is always reading. Sometimes two grocery bags full of books a week. She tells me knowledge, she tells me history, I am amazed, and ashamed I cannot match her knowledge, her time here. She is a rebel, she fought for causes that won, and still fight's. She drink's martini's, foul like pine needles that would make the iron belly of the wood stove rot, but she survives. She laughs at me and my friends, a loving grin “ow to be young, I remember back in my day....” and she tells of her day, of the 60's and 70's, we wish we were there too. Free love, cheap everything, the same terrible kind of war, at least then they protested. The music. She tells me she knew Marilyn Monroe, she tells me my grandfather was friends with her husband. She tells me she knew Richard farina, ken Kasey, bob Dylan, many people. She tells me my grandfather is crazy. I listen, and laugh, because someday I will get to be crazy like him too. I am proud of this. One day I tell her about my childhood, as if she didn’t see me grow. She smiles and tells me a sad story of my grandfathers. “ when he was a child he was friends with a younger black child” I listen intently, I have black friends, why is this an important fact? “one day his father told him not to play with this boy any more, if he didn’t want this little black boy to get in trouble” why couldn’t they play? Why would he get in trouble? “because this was the old days, and blacks weren’t to mingle with the white population, people thought the blacks would corrupt the white children” I am scared for the black boy now, I beg my child grandfather not to play with him but he does, he does until the little black boy is gone “they never knew where he went” I was horrified. My grandfather missed his friend. His parents still lived in the same house. Still has the same dinner smells come out of it everyday. But the boy was gone. The boy was never found. I imagined an empty space at the table. I imagined terrible things. I imagined an empty bed. I imagined an empty hole in my grandfathers heart. “i think he still regrets it to this day most likely”. Then we didn’t talk for a while I stirred the onions that where in the blue pan above the gas flame, I added in the sausage and bay leaf the beans the sage the tomatoes the chicken stock. My grandmother looked out the window. I listened to the crackling in the wood stove, I listened to the sizzle in the pan, I listened to the great big dog outside park at the tree's, I listened to the wind trick the dog into barking at the tree's. I tried not to think about the little black boy, I tried not to think about my crazy grandfather.
a conversation, a childhood
February 17, 2011