Most of my creative writing was lost in the Great Computer Crash of 2006, and I think this was for the best.
But today I found a file folder wedged between others marked things like “Toby’s Vet Docs” and “Paystubs” and “Andrew’s College Fund.” It held a few papers from my poetry workshop days, mostly AmLit fliers and printed information about submitting to literary magazines. In 2003, I sent a packet of three poems to The Formalist, a lit mag that used to published metrical poetry, and had one published — “Carving Fruit,” which I’ve posted here before as my last effort to write creatively. I looked through the three additional poems I sent to the magazine and found all of them to be flawed and usually trite and a little humiliating.
There was one, however, that despite it’s flaws seems relevant now. Last week, my grandmother passed away at the age of 92. During his eulogy, my dad talked about his parents’ marriage. My grandfather died about five years ago, and my grandmother was never quite the same afterward. They had been married for — over sixty years, I think? I remember, when he died, I hated the thought of my grandmother alone in the apartment that was once theirs instead of hers. She never learned how to drive, and spent her days watching television or filling in the daily crossword puzzle. I wrote this:
Four-letter word, crustacean: crab —
the blue-vein letters soft and caught
in crossword shells. The day was drab
and grandpa’s car was missing, bought
by someone with smooth palms, full hair.
My grandma sensed the empty lot
through bolted doors. She hated bare
black asphalt, clenched her pen and fought
the crowding absence with the clues.
Six-letter name for husband lost.
Five-letter verb, to grieve. To lose
remnants of mint and wax she tossed
four crabs into the pot to cook,
their thick sea smell erasing him.
She watched their puzzled pincers hook
and clatter on the stainless rim.