Clad in plaid flannel pajamas,
under toasty blankets
an odd odor assails me, drags me
into the chill morning, thrusting cold feet into ballet slippers.
Saturday at Grandpa and Grandma's.
Tilly scrunches into a battered brown Safeway bag, hiding,
tail twitching like a conductor's baton.
A rhythmic clickety-click sound -- unfamiliar -- strange.
Grandpa is standing at the Dining Table feeding Grandma
into a silver meat grinder he has rented. Her head
On the other side of the table, coming out of the grinder like a womb --
White handkerchiefs, hand-embroidered, edged in yellow,
lavender and pink.
I hold them to my nose.
They smell like Polish sausages.
"You may fold them now," says Grandpa.
Tilly emits a low yowl of protest from deep inside the Safeway bag.
Grandpa pauses a moment to wipe a drop of blood from his eye.
I study the glass case on the cramped wall:
Grandma's ukulele is staring at me. I pick Grandma out in a
1920's cast photo of "The Pirates of Penzance": baggy pants,
cap slipped over one eye, ukulele in her lap.
All the music in the world notes the moment.
Grandpa grasps the silver handle and starts grinding again.
"It's better this way, Sweetie, believe me. Better for her, better for all of us."
I nod, then neatly draw and quarter the handkerchiefs
in my hands.
-- J. Lynn Hughes