genre 2
poetry by E. Anna Keith

Three Poems


I want to tell you about my grandmother.
She is a new version now,
she is maybe her seventh
self. Some days are better
than others, every hour every minute,
a reintroduction. I was here
last week. When Jody last disappeared
they found her in the basement, crying
for her West Virginia among the shadows
she calls men. I was up late that night
with my mother, discussing latches
and things that don’t bind
but necessarily keep. The house is old.
But Jody’s good days are Christmas,
temporary hours and surreal to witness.
They tell me it is like an implosion.
In hers I see withering and paths
that lead down to the end of the driveway.

the last time I called home

I don’t do it much anymore.
clarity is hard to come by,
harder in these parts. the last time
I dialed Grandad answered.
how are you? I asked. four
three eight. sober, he says.
six one. it’s his rehearsed answer
so I laugh on cue. do you want to talk
to Gram. five nine.
Grandad is a Depression child.
in the mountains, I called her daily.
four years old
at the kitchen telephone,
its cord
curled over my arms.
1998 and they introduce
area codes. three extra presses
before our three two nine.

in the Rust Belt twenty years later
with a four beginning my three.
where are you, Gram asks.
are you here. five. I’m not,
I say. her voice breaks.
can I talk to Grandad?
six two. I’m sorry. seven.
she never says. two.
my name. four.

learning to pause

I am learning to         make moments
expect the emptiness like a winter’s day
but make         minutes like
seeing robins nest in the silver oak.
flashes like         when Gram laughs.

learning to         make color.
I put it on her fingernails
my brother as a model.
talk softly about Bible stories.
I am considering         Ruth and Naomi.
the space between presences
and time. and love.
E. Anna Keith is a writer and academic living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with two cats, one tortoise, and many jars of peanut butter. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Constellate Jounal and Bone and Ink Lit Zine. She tweets about writing and existential angst at @ekeithwrites.
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