Gray-Bone Gristly Things

before being a mother
before being a grandmother
before being Born Again
she was simply Muriel
the memory of this former self
preserved in red-lipstick pictures
she’d loved a lot of men
or she would have, had she known how
and perhaps she still did, in her own way
she married several, nobody is sure
how many, or whom
her body and jowls had fallen
by the time I’d known her
the men, gone, chased away, or discarded
and no new ones came calling, in winter’s years
she’d cook strange, gray-bone gristly things
in tall, dented-aluminum pots
stirring, her wrinkled body whirring, in time
inside her buzzer-door 5th-floor Brooklyn apartment
as a boy, I’d swore she was a witch
tho I said nothing, sitting at the folding table
as older, after she’d been Born Again
she’d quote the bible
speaking of the apostles
like they lived in the apartment next door
still cooking strange, gray-bone gristly things
and she’d talk about her children
and her other grandchildren
behind their backs
and she’d pray for their souls
and mine too, I suppose
though I didn’t say much
either way
I’d never seen anyone dying before
as the years and disease
finally took her
parts of the soul
leave– before a person dies
the hate turns to bladder stones
excruciating as they pass, jaggedly
though parts of who they’d been, cling
in desperation
in yellowed-skin sunken-eyed fear
perhaps fear and regret
are all which stay
at the jaundiced end
until they too, relinquish
and only gray-bone gristly things remain

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7 thoughts on “Gray-Bone Gristly Things”

  1. This is the story of all our lives, I think. Certainly touches mine in many respects. This is so touching:

    “the memory of this former self
    preserved in red-lipstick pictures”

    Life as a perpetual battle to remember the self we always end up losing?

    1. I think she both missed that person, and wished to forget that person. Regret, and shame. Each of those relationships was a fork in the road, a choice made to leave. She died alone, with family, but alone, and she had been for decades. I wish I’d the chance to talk with her without Jesus in the room, just once. Thank you Mils, as always.

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