Friday, February 2, 2007
A True Story
That summer Gramma Belle, ma belle grand-mère
communing with the fireflies,
enfolded in the heat, dusty gardenias, cashmere bouquet
heliotrope, lilies, citronella candle, cotton blooms,
told me of the time when she and Aunt Maddie
sat together on the wagon seat, holding hands,
two rosebuds, one pink and one pale yellow,
in their Montgomery Ward silk dresses,
Gibson girl chignons,
like two geisha hopefuls.
Grandpa Purvis chucked the horses to a trot,
humming into his red beard, “Sweet Adeline.”
as they drove over to the Winnsboro Ladies’ Tea-Dance.
Then how they sat together,
legs swinging under the barren pew
while the Philistine preacher castigated them for pride,
his vitriol left sparks that rainbowed in Maddie’s hair
and Belle had all but snickered at the sight.
How they laughed over his red face and clumsy hands
gesticulating, and how they from that day kept joyous Sundays
How grand-père Jean Hardin came to visit
and his horses trampled the strawberries so flat
that Grandma Purvis never forgave him,
even though he lived under her roof,
until her deathbed, where she grandly forgave
everyone, everything, and left this world smiling.