by Robin Gow

my grandmother kept a salt & pepper grinder
on her dining room table.
her apartment was small.
it smelled like sun & smoke.
the blue arm chair.
the glass coffee tables & glass bowl of candy.
it was like visiting a church
or museum. i remember the sensation
of twisting that grinder over top
a plate of green beans & pasta, how
i could feel the crystals breaking
into smaller pieces. i knew very little
about my grandmother. i wrote
a poem about her in fifth grade as if
she was already dead. i called her once
to talk about pearl harbor
for a school project
& she said she learned about the attack while she was
sitting on the end of her bed
alone in her room.
i never saw her fill the salt & pepper grinders
but they were always full. her thin
tree-root fingers
wrapped around the wooden part
that twisted. what did alone
mean to her? the flecks of salt
twinkling on a plate. she completed this act
everyday alone in her apartment.
crinkling sound. crash of rock.
over root vegetables & chicken breast
& salmon cutlets & roasted potatoes.
her palm full of rocks
filling the inside of the grinder
in the morning? at night? just
for when we visited? her bathroom was
a soft pink & i would go there to escape
ambling conversations between her & mom.
looking at my face
in the mirror i would try to see
traces of her. alone with the cardinals?
alone with the rocks of salt?
alone with the ghosts of neighboring apartments?
outside were holly bushes
that i liked to carefully
pick the leaves off of & if she was nearby
she would say careful careful &
i would say yes i am careful.
that kind of careful marked the position
of each bust & sculpture on her cabinets.
it is morning & she is filling
the grinder & she is frying
a single egg & she is opening the curtains
of the sliding glass window.
there are stray fragments of salt
on the counter & she is sweeping them
onto the floor
to disappear. i want to write
about her now & always
as if she’s alive.

Robin Gow‘s the author of the chapbook HONEYSUCKLE by Finishing Line Press. His poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Roanoke Review. He is a graduate student and professor at Adelphi University pursing an MFA in Creative Writing. He a Managing Editor at The Nasiona, Editor at Large for Village of Crickets, and Social Media Coordinator for Oyster River Pages. His first full-length collection is forthcoming with Tolsun Books.

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