Grandmother

GloriaBaseballmom.jpg

This is my grandma Gloria in a photoshoot for the Daily Breeze newspaper in Redondo. A Little League story. She was born in South Central LA in 1922 as Gladys Esther Tremain, but later changed her name to Gloria and added the ‘e’ to Tremaine, a Cornish, French-given name meaning ‘Three Hands.’ She altered many things, apparently she even fibbed about her age to slice a few years. I like to imagine her reshaping reality in all sorts of little ways, in an LA still pouring its concrete. An LA that too was reimagining its vision of the future. I see her driving a rectangle along the Esplanade, a car like a boat, wearing cat-eye sunglasses, feeding her pet tarantula, skinny-dipping in Big Bear, eating eclairs my grandpa brought for her office breaks in Malaga Cove, taking the ferry to Catalina, spiraling around the kitchen in big skirts, calling in her boys for dinner, collecting deliveries of fresh Wonder Bread at the door. Her nephew drove that polka-dotted van all his life. Wonder what they’d think about my sourdough-eating ass. I never met her, she died in 1974 of ovarian cancer. My dad and uncle were just teenagers. But her forward outlook remains. I think about her all the time—especially when I see my cousin Amber—and like to imagine, as she would’ve, that we are very close.

debate

Staring out the window of an eleventh-floor conference room. Beyond glossy tables topped with glasses of water, the sun sets over Melbourne. She never looks the same. Skyline always seems to change. Haven’t been here long enough to recognize what was, let alone how it becomes. Alas, I distract. Watching red and white pass, to and from flowers and the hive. In a split moment, into those lights, I feel detached from this life. Will anything we say here translate there? What to make of a tower. Bathing in philosophy while people without water. Sliced by fences. Strip-searched of rights. In here, few cushioned. Sipping. Talking, thinking, reading, and writing. Arranging thoughts, growing fields. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here. I mustn’t belong. Not—able—enough. But who is to say who gets to stay? An amniotic slip, gasping for air. Between pockets of meaning and earning. Where are they going? Home to families or alone in boxes. Nowhere and everywhere, staring into a screen, just like me. That space I crave, pushing every him away. Curling “Learn Spanish and Leave” into the margin. Not complaining, just debating. What a fucking gift: to be a student. But what’s the point trying to hold a line? Seeking a PhD? Injecting Latin. Punctuating rationality and morality. The letters and numbers don’t add up. An insufficient balance = halted reach. Or can it seep from seats into policies? Alter the next for this planet. Where’s the ripple? Bouncing on a grid, sliding through that divine intersect, I giggle. Prefer poetry. But isn’t it all when the last petals fall?

may be

maybe too soon to understand
maybe each used other as a means to our own misguidance
maybe we weren’t ready for It
maybe I like to clean up just to make a mess
impossible to see before a turn
to name the before
could have sworn we felt without words

maybe we’ll recollect these scattered selves,
restrengthen the illusion
becoming ends in and of ourselves.
find that place there’s nowhere else to go,
for now just keep going and going

maybe I think what may be too much.
certainly we’ll never know.

ride

cycled the whole city
river to the sea
terraced lanes my map’s never seen
but didn’t shed a bead of sweat
cheeks just got a little red
negotiating gears
to coil her chain
thinking back, peddled so fast
I didn’t feel a thing riding into that crash
locked in bed the next few days
wading within some psychotic break
until leaving again
for another spin

smiling eyes
demobilized
serpentine wrap my spine
rinse minerals to spare
pearl tears for Mother
all she gives
all we take
the greed, a seed, rebirth; a tree
how can she be all this
in silence?
concrete-filled mouth
jaguar yawn let it out
may this flight
be a charm
to find home
stillness in scattered bones