Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Missis Brau Returns from the Dead

Ah, the certainty of youth, when we know we know the truth

She was an old lady from the first day I remember her
and she grew older right before my eyes
In her anyanimal coat that shed
until it had no hair
A coat sewn together
of a thousand Mexican hairless dogs
The strangest coat I ever saw

Her own hair was only here and there
light and fine as spider webs
Aged though she was
she had no wrinkles
Not one line creased that brow
Sliced, sutured, and pulled smooth
Bathed in acid baths
Eyebrows could not survive
And so were painted on each day
as needed

She shuffled flatfooted
in leather sandals
slap slap slap
And carried a gigantic goatskin bag
The sandals, bag and wrap
Bargained for in Bogatá
where her acid baths were found

She was the oldest woman I ever knew
She made me chew
my food one hundred times
and hid my milk under her chair
She claimed that she could train our dog
He paid her no attention
She spoke to him in French
He was a Boston terrier

On her trip to Casper
to buy a sheep ranch
She disembarked the bus
and left her goatskin bag upon the rack
Filled with 100 crisp 100-dollar bills
She got it back
For who knew what was within
Anacondas coiling
in that ghastly bag of skin?

She was not lucky that way
with all her many millions
Schemers took it from her
sold her snow and sand and smiles
And held her hand
and when she died
On the table in the kitchen
of her one-room flat on Beacon Street
There was only just enough to pay
to take her by the feet
and carry her away

She was not enamored of this life
and often said she’d end her own
“I will sit me in the snow, I will get me a gun
and I will kill me”
She left instructions for disposal
“I want to be cooked”
she said

And after she was dead
her cremains in a small grey box
at Forest Lawn
My mother said she saw her ghostly presence
She came back to tell me
of the great hereafter
Mother said

I was just a child
but I knew it was a dream
Missis Brau was dead
Where could she have gone
in that tattered coat – that rag
slap slapping off to
who knows where
with that ghastly goatskin bag?

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