Gless Avenue, Belleville, N.J.
The neat stacks of old newspapers
might have led you to believe
that Gramma intended to read
the rooms full of back issues
and headlines of earlier years
or she planned to write
her life story based on news events.
But Gramma could not read
though she could figure
and track your rent payments
these English words were a big blur
and the future not all that much better.
Gramma Silverhair had her reasons
for filling up rooms
with old newspapers she would never read.
It was all about the numbers
she would tell herself and no one else.
For in her old age
she trusted no one beyond herself.
Gramma grew all she needed in her yard there
with the grapevines and fig trees
and the chickens, the eggs and all.
The many cats had kittens
and she drowned the ones she had to
and left the rest to kill the mice.
On the back porch in the Garden State air
she dried green, orange
and yellow speckled gourds
and when we shook them,
the seeds inside rattled like castanets.
The fresh cool water from two hand-dug wells
lost its worth, its importance in daily life
when the town water came into the house.
It might have been needed some day
with all the papers there.
Those old newspapers held so
precious to her heart, left behind
when she died, the dollar bills fell out.
- By Anthony Buccino
from SIXTEEN INCHES ON CENTER
Copyright © 2010 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved.