Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spirit Tea

In the darkened kitchen, the copper
kettle sits,
glazed with stains aged thirty
odd years, of tea.

Tea I drank while Grandma spoke
of youth.

A girl
who would get her braids
when her father so desired.

And when her father so desired
she was girl-entertainer,
dancer for drunken
all male congregation

enjoying, in her living room,
such things as a fourteen year old
for their pleasure.

She knew the black magic
from witch-aunt who hated her
and cursed with polio.
Grandma was cured by burning
the wreath found buried in her pillow.

She knew the black magic
from witch-sister who desired Grandma’s husband.
She cured the witch
with a broom buried
against the inside of the door—

witches will not cross the threshold
of a broom.

Grandma believed spirits were everywhere,
swearing she heard them laugh
every time she passed their favorite room
in the hall.

She would scare me with her haunted stories:
finding two white eyes peeking out
at her from underneath the bed,

the time her rosary flew violently
off her blouse while self-plucking guitar strings
twanged in mysterious accompaniment,

how great grandmother liked to come
back from the grave
for a sit in the upstairs rocker.

Tea was our medium.

Grandma’s kettle
was a body for spirits;
not only for its warm liquid that eased
hardened memories,

but of a spirit that lives always
between a grandmother and her child.

Today, the kettle leans against the burgandy
of the brick kitchen, branded
with the burnt spills
hardened against its belly.

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