Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Pansies by Amanda Hawk

My grandmother loved pansies,
and placed them in her kitchen.
Blue and yellow burst from the center
of the chipped linoleum table.

She grew up in the dust bowl of the Midwest
and remembered the Great Depression.
She collected everything;
kitchen drawers full of twist-ties,

loose bags, bread clips and family.
She had tucked photos in the napkin holder,
taped them to her oven dials,
and plastered them along her mirrors.

My grandmother knew family
and kept photo envelopes
on the table next to the salt and pepper.
She could build a map with photographs

and recited relatives’ names as cities.
She told me this is our history
and she introduced all her ghost family to me;
they howled names, rattled out stories

and haunted our conversations.
We all collected around my grandmother
and she nestled us in her kitchen drawers.
We were seaside reunions, holiday dinners,

and summer vacation photos posted on the refrigerator,
pinned in her stacked photo albums,
and tucked in the sleeves of her shirt.
My grandmother started to forget the language of her family cities

and she began to confuse us with the salt and pepper on the table.
She no longer could create maps with our outlines,
and her family started to disappear back into dust.
My grandmother passed away, while I was in the grocery store

collecting loose lemons and blue darigold cartons off the belt,
and I cried as I shoved the items in loose bags.
I started to collect pansies for my grandmother-
all blue and gold.

Bio: Amanda Hawk lives in Seattle between the roaring planes and concrete jungle. She splits her time with her son and friends, and the city’s neon lights. She has been published in Volney Road Review, Drunk Monkeys Literary Journal, Eye to the Telescope and the winnow magazine. Recently, she had a piece accepted at Clackamas Literary Review and Rogue Agent.

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