Monday, April 4, 2011

Grandmother's House

Grandmother's House
Anthony A. Lee

“Are you my real grandmother?"
my brother asked,
amid living room bric-a-brac
after dinner,
dust thick on the chairs and carpets,
magazines scattered on the floor,
busy Persian carpet,
yellow light from the Tiffany lamp
in the dim room—just
grandma and her husband
there, except us—
his eyes wide, mouth curled.
He was eight and old enough to know better.
I, ten, told him silly questions were not polite.
She narrowed her eyes.
“No. I loved your baby father
just as if he had been mine.”
She didn’t move.
Grandpa pretended not to hear.
My dad turned away, looked down.
The room got darker.
On the ride home, we said
nothing. My brother broke
and said: “What was your name
before you were her son?”
“I don’t know,” the only answer
he could give.
It was midnight.
We were all orphans.


Anthony A. Lee, Ph.D. teaches African American history at UCLA. He is the winner of the Nat Turner Poetry Prize for 2003 (Cross Keys Press). His first book of poems, This Poem Means, was the winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award for 2005 (Lotus Press). Some of his translations have been published in Táhirih: A Portrait in Poetry: Selected Poems of Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Kalimát Press, 2004). He teaches a poetry workshop sponsored by the Creative Arts Center, City of Manhattan Beach, Califonria.

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