For Grief and for Ironing
Published in Impspired Literary Magazine July 2019
Published with Feminine Collective November 2018
Mary Elizabeth Snook ironed on the day Grandpa
Cecil Hayes died at 3:15 am and then she made
cake, macaroni salad, scalloped corn, and goulash
to bring to my Nana’s house. She ironed
the day her ear hurt so badly that she
vomited and then rallied to go to the A & P to
get groceries and later babysat by mom and
my aunt. She ironed the day
she and my great grandpa arrived back
from a vacay to Mammoth Cave and found out Mrs.
Dickie’s mother died. Then she made pies for the
funeral. When her ulcers were paining her
and my great grandpa crossed the G.E.
picket line to get his pay check, she ironed.
All of those days and nights Earl stayed gone
and even when he hopped a bus to Indy to
join the Air Force, she ironed. When Larry
sold his ’37 Chevy for $18 she ironed. The day
my great grandpa fixed the coal room to
be cemented she canned 3 pints of peppers, 9
pints of beets, and 5 quarts of gooseberries and then she ironed.
She ironed on the days I visited when I
stood apart not knowing what to say to
her age and her gray and her creaky voice. I was too
young to listen to her hands speak and to hear
her eyes reveal how some human unions
end in doom and others create exquisite detail and
renditions not previously recorded. Yesterday, I stopped
for grief and for ironing
and I felt as old as I was born
with nothing to be told that would
fill 10 five-year diaries worth of life. If I were
with her today I would walk with her
in her garden and tell her all about how some days
I barely know how to iron at all.