Her house of forty-nine years
Is yellow-bodied with brown eaves,
Yellow the color of gold tortilla chips.
She is not a milk and cookies grandma,
but spicy like the salsa-dipped chips she slips
through her slender fingers with a slide like silk.
Arch the backs of the cards, Bicycles with silk
finish, wrists rolling and shuffling with years
of practice, Gin Rummy and that satisfying slip
of long fingers straight and brown like the eaves
of her house, ten like the number who call her grandma.
She balances worn edges of cards and corn chips,
Teaching me, cowlicks and knee socks, to dine chips
and to pinch aces and kings and queens of silk
between my fingers and to not see just Grandma
but card shark and zealot and younger than her years
which number eighteen more than those dark eaves.
She knows that this sixth grade moment will slip
past us. Soon I am sixteen and she is slipping
oxygen tubes into her nose but not giving up spicy chips
or Gin Rummy or singing at one a.m.under brown eaves.
She no longer dyes her hair chestnut, it is fine silk
of silver and I can now see that her forty nine years
in Huntsville house will never be fifty. She is grandma
and card shark and zealot, the Grandma
who balances cards and chips, but still minutes can slip
through those brown fingers that have shuffled years
of red and black Bicycles and bowls of bold chips
but which cannot grasp the fabric of those silk
days that slip by like the shadows cast by twilight eaves.
A crisp April day, we gather under weather-worn eaves
to remember the bold life of the woman I call Grandma.
I stand in the kitchen running my wrist along the silk
back of her chair worn smooth from decades of slipping
into it for a game of cards and a bowl of yellow chips.
I am seventeen, as she who settled in Huntsville in year
1946. And these eaves will stand for forty-nine more.
To remind me of Grandma, balancer of cards and chips
but not of days slipping away like eaves' silken shadows.