Chickens scratching out their lives on sustenance of fat grubs and round,
worms below the leaves escaped the heat but suddenly were found.
Out splash the grounds a flick harder, a few black specks dotting the cup.
Holding my breath as old Gam squinted hard, cocked her head and clucked.
The boy had been rough, as though I was not enough, maybe he heard a boy say,
I felt foolishly open and on display, and he gave me a belly as I looked away.
Seventeen and barely scratching out my own life, no one to claim me as theirs,
‘Cept cats and chickens, coffee black and this old woman that spits and swears.
She went by Maw Maw, Granny, Maimie, Meemaw and for myself, just Gam.
It’s true enough she had “the sight”, but strange she didn’t seem to give a damn.
Barefoot upon hard dirt she sat as rocking chair creaked with nary a care.
My sister tried it once. She stole the grounds, from pop, and threw them on a dare.
All Layla wanted was to be a wife, blinded from life and foolish in her zeal,
To see as Gam saw, instead she found too late the old woman also had to deal
With feeling the seeing, not just the visions and good was good but bad – revisions
Could not be made for bad, they had to come out as true as true; as sad as sad.
“He ain’t in love, child. He won’t be neither” she said with beady, coal black eyes,
Sis had sassed and held her head up high. Gam dropped her own with sorrowed sigh.
That bright day when they put Layla in the box, looking so pretty but just asleep,
I put flowers in her hair, the white ones that grow down by the killing creek.
Gam had thrown the grounds in spite and said, “Time leans hard on this old sight,”
She had never even drawn a tear when they brought us Layla’s body that cold night.
Joseph was born, and Jack after, dusty feet and shirtless on the hot day long,
Gam threw her last between those boys as I stood hoping just once to see her wrong.
“A man is coming who grows things straight from seed. He can love things dying.”
The boys wrestled in the dirt as Gam dropped the empty cup, and I sat crying.