I Want to Write a Poem to Celebrate

after Maria Mazziotti Gillian

my grandmother’s brain,
and the few things it forgets.
The rotating library full
of acquired cataloged knowledge,
memories, random family artifacts,
bits of trivia, recipes for food,
and remedies for healing yourself.
The names of anyone she has ever met,
and the long lists of people she prays for.

I want to celebrate the way
all five feet of her body
moves in the process of remembering.
How her hands
alongside words
paint pictures in air.
The way she adjusts her glasses,
fixes her silvered hair,
wipes the edges of her mouth
with her forefinger and thumb,
rubs her palms on her thighs,
repeats.
When her voice raises and pace quickens
she builds momentum,
filling entire rooms
with passion
and colors they have yet to name.

At Christmas she recounts
each child or grandchild’s flawed moments
with tender affection.
The time I ate too many
of the brownies she baked
and felt sick,
or the time my uncles threw
my mother down the laundry chute.
Her goofy laugh
is a sound I will not quickly forget.

Once she starts
she never stops remembering—
each newspaper article, book,
photograph or face she has read
serves as a domino—
triggering another piece of past
to fall from the corners of her mind.

I want to celebrate
her steadfast pursuit
of truths and knowledge—
the way she always makes room
in her mind for more
of everything and anyone.

While my grandfather’s memories
slowly turn to dirt
in the senior center garden,
she recalls enough
of our collective histories
for the both of them—
the matriarchal oracle
who holds our entire
past, present and future
within her.

She is everything I am,
and all that I hope to be.

Julia Bonadies holds a B.A. in English from Eastern Connecticut State University. She is currently for her Masters in Secondary Education at ECSU. Her work is published in the Albion Review and The Leaflet. She lives in Connecticut with her cat, Allister.

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