My Mississippi grandma and her friends
Not the comic strip kind,
but the surreal, Southern, storied kind.
What made them fantastical
was how they stood out
against the sobering backdrop
My grandma taught herself to play the piano
and could play and sing dozens of hymnals by memory
as if the gospel was flowing right through her.
Her hands had a life of their own on the keys.
Her dear friend could whistle two tones at once.
I was stunned when I heard this
for the first time.
Her wide, theatrical eyes
declared their victory
over my youthful senses
as I watched with my jaw dropped.
Another friend of my grandma’s
had a magnetic like force.
If you were anywhere around her,
you would be sucked into her bear-like embrace
until she prayed over you with great intent
as if removing a deeply lodged hex.
I soon began to feel a bit nervous around her
but decided that there was no way out
of this mini revival
she put on
there was the time that
my grandmother stood there
in her guest bedroom.
She stood there
tall and proud and naked,
just out of the bathtub…
both breasts gone,
the scars like lashes on her chest.
“Don’t let this happen to you,”
She called my name
and then said
with a strong yet quivering voice,
“do ya hear me!?”
tore right into me
like the Southern tornadoes
I was trained to duck and hide from.
But, there was nowhere to hide.
I was changed forever.
And, so was she.
I think back now
to the story my mom had told me
of how grandma had the local water tested
at a nearby university.
Contamination was found.
The mayor at the time
diminished her concerns
like the old, Southern gentlemen
were known to do.
Years after she died
a Superfund site was declared
in our town.
A creosote plant had been oozing chemicals
into the groundwater
I can’t help but think…
I can’t help but wonder…
I guess you could call me Wonder Woman, then.
And, I guess…like my grandma and her friends,
I have my own superpower.
It has to do with recalling the old stories
and putting them back out there
fully woven with earnestness…
so that the ghosts can finally rest.
by Lindsay Kolasa – May 1, 2021
(This one’s for you, grandma… May you be served much ambrosia where you are and may you know that we are taking care of things on this side…you rest in peace and love… Pictured above…my grandma doing what she did best…make music…)