Swans Commentary » swans.com April 10, 2006  



The Accident
for Kelso


by Laura Madeline Wiseman





(Swans - April 10, 2006)  
This is about my grandma

who died this week and how my eyes

tried to wet themselves unsuccessfully.

She used to paddle me with a brush

but I only remember the martinis

calculated for granddad's arrival home

and her folded in lamplight

reading of someone else's love.

When my great aunt died I took out

the afghan she made for my kid self

and let it clash for months

with the living room.

It was I who made the call to my mother

whose voice emptied like an airbag.

She let me go abruptly

laconic these fifteen years

to confide to the three cats

who will safely mind her

secrets to their death.

This is supposed to be about

my grandma dead this past Monday

but it ends up being about family

and the complicated ways of distance.

My sister had a baby at twenty

a biracial bastard three weeks old today.

But that's not the reason

we're to pussyfoot this choice.

But rather there's a history

of dealt with adolescent sex play.

Grandma married with a twenty inch waist

but miscalculated seven catholic rhythms

and had her first orgasm at thirty-eight.

When I was a child we'd watch Bob Barker

as she smoothed out time with Olay.

She smoked marijuana once

with two of her teenage daughters.

My mother tried to catch her

inevitable vomit with a cupped hand.

That was the same year of Jackie Kennedy's

failed attempt to save her husband's brain.

For a time I tried to unknow things

better left unsaid.

A father's fist that pummeled my fetus sister

to the ditch from a moving truck.

On the death of his child

a womanizing uncle that moonlighted

as a live-in houseguest sleep talking

of the time to put away play things.

But I've come to accept

it all comes back to the little deaths

and the unforeseen ones.

To the first red-headed brat

you slammed into the world

and the speed we've been careening toward

you ever since.


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America the 'beautiful'


About the Author

Laura Madeline Wiseman is an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. Her works have appeared in 13th Moon, The Comstock Review, Paper Street, and other publications. She is an editor for IntheFray and Empowerment4Women.



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art12/lmwise04.html
Published April 10, 2006