My Heart’s Wallpaper

My Heart’s Wallpaper:
A haibun for my Grandmother

It’s right that the room is blue. Baby blue walls. Baby blue lace curtains. Your lips. I give you ice bits like you ask for. You used to ask for them when you were very much alive too. Why should everything change, now that you’re nearly dead? I sit and listen to the silence. There is no dialysis machine to drown out the excruciating quiet anymore. I can barely hear your breath. It sounds like a life, wandering. I think about blue raspberry Slurpees to keep myself from sobbing.

on a swing she sat
so stagnant and sky-gazing
longing to go home

The adults order us kids to go out. We cram into my cousin’s car. Reba McIntyre is on the radio singing about how her whole world is standing still. I block that out by imagining you’re telling me you love me over and over again because I’m already a broken record. I find I can’t move. Just like Reba. My cousins hate country music and don’t even realize that this is a country song. No one’s complaining about anything today. I wonder if they know, as I do, that we will never see you dance in the kitchen to Elvis Presley like no one is watching ever again.

motown radio
providing the best soundtrack
for all your stories

When the phone rings at our relatives’ house I know it means you’re gone. It’s been sixteen minutes since the last time I would ever see you. I think of watching horror movies until 3AM. I picture the porch swings. One in the backyard, one in the front. Your red Grand AM. Your beaded cigarette pack. Crossword puzzles. How I swore you bled coffee. Medical devices. Catheters. The park. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!. The sandbox…

It’s the present and I’m in a turtle shaped sandbox looking after my baby cousins. Their mother is telling me to gather my things. That we have to go. That you’re gone. It’s been twenty four minutes since the last time I’d ever see you again. I take these little ones by their hands that will never really know yours. I think about the parts of me that matter–my things–all of me and how they’re all worthless. How they’ve gone away with you.

the owl is sleeping
she is wrapped in crow feathers
homeward heaven-bound

It’s been so many years now that I can’t remember if the room was really blue or if that’s just how everything that day was supposed to look. That’s the color my heart paints it and I believe it. It’s right.

For Margaret Dunlap 1939-1999

Published by Jennifer Patino


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