September 01, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma!


Bus Waiting Ritual

I am cold
so grandma digs past cinnamon candy
and tissues
and expired bus transfer slips
pushes aside a brown billfold
finds her cigarettes and lighter.

Now watch how quickly the bus arrives.

She steps away from the people
waiting with us: an older kid with spiked hair,
an Asian lady with grocery bags,
a tall dude in a suit.

I watch her inhale
and hear an engine wind up
and grind gears and soon see the bus
chug over the hilly street
exhale gray smoke
through empty treetops.

Like clockwork.

She drops a cigarette
steps on it
waits for others to go first
guides me one
pulls the billfold;

our white breath stays outside.

**The picture, clearly not a bus, is a clock that used to hang in my grandmother's kitchen and now hangs in my kitchen. My grandmother was a minimalist at best and had few items decorate each room of her house. The woman cooked for any and all occasion. The woman would make the simplest nosh for the fussiest eater (me) and the most complex dish for our varied family heritages. Either way, the aroma of her kitchen was as hearty as a Thanksgiving spread. I started a journal when I was in seventh grade and, sadly, rarely wrote about my grandmother. Since her passing a few years back, my family and I each have something from her that to the average person may not be much (her ceramic lemon cookie jar) but to us remind us of the simple-complexity of her life. I do miss chatting with her but find every way to carry on her legacy whether it's teaching others a new card game, or inviting friends over for a large meal.