Gnashing Teeth Publishing

| words that get in your teeth

Gospel of Rosie by Ana Boyd

woman in glasses with reddish brown hair and a purple scarf around her neck

My best friend Rosie loves to bake.
She puts her hair up in a bun and rolls up her sleeves,
and whatever she makes, she makes at least two dozen.
She says she only does things all the way.
It’s all about the investment.
It’s with-rolled-up-sleeves, or not at all, she says.

She hand-delivers plates to loved ones
on Sunday afternoon dinners,
cascades through rooms like wheels live on the bottoms of her feet.
In and out she flies from kitchen to living room
with cups and plates in her hands and balanced on arms
because part of loving
is serving
and every time she hands you a silver spoon
to eat your ice cream with she is actually
remembering everything her grandmother ever taught her
about love.

My Rosie loves Italian wine paired with Manchego.
She pairs it with a rich Tempranillo,
she can tell you why they’re good together.
Sometimes I call her from the market and I say ,
“Rosie, I’m at Capellas. I am buying wine to go with Manchego Fresco.
What kind should I get?”
She laughs and I fall in love with our friendship again, for the seven thousandth time.
“Get the Tempranillo, Crazy,” she says to me with all the confidence in the world.
She laughs because she thinks that my phone call from the grocery store
is what I consider “an emergency,”
but the truth is, I remembered what kind of wine to get before I called.
I just wanted to hear Rosie’s voice.
She taught me the beauty of a ritual, and now I can’t get enough of them.

My Rosie brushed and french-braided my hair on my birthday last year,
had me sit down in front of her cross-legged as she sat stooped up above me
on the chair.
This was the position of Saturday evenings with my grandmother as a child.
I always stared straight ahead, head perfectly still,
but I could feel her through her hands.
It was more than enough.
The truth is, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt closer to another person than on those nights
when I sat in front of my grandmother, wordless.

My Rosie who brushes my hair,
drives to hospitals at night,
sometimes after our phone conversation where she tells me
about the Manchego and the rich Tempranillo.
I guess it’s a testament to the fact that we can be
two things at once.
I guess it’s a testament to the fact that
we do it all the time.
She doesn’t tell anyone about the hospitals. She doesn’t even tell me.
According to her she goes for the warmth of their blankets,
but she told me later that ever since she was diagnosed with a chronic illness
she’s afraid that she’s dying
and she just needs somebody to tell her that she’s not.

Yeah, I think that’s how it started, the more I think about my Rosie the more I think it started small,
a need for reassurance one cold night, a touch on the arm from a stranger
in a white coat with credentials
and eyes that have special powers to see inside bodies.
I think she started thinking that every time she got afraid, she could go
to the men in white coats with super-power-eyes, the ones who walk into the room after the
ones who hand you super-power-blankets
and she could be pronounced “suitable for a normal life.”
It’s almost like a production, you wait for the curtain to open and
the white coat man to enter.
She told me that she has sat for hours before watching feet walk back and forth
underneath hospital curtains, studying shoes and the way people step:
some quickly, haphazardly, gently, carelessly, lazily,
Lovingly.
When the white coat man entered,
He counted Rosie’s heartbeats,
he listened to her lungs,
he pressed down on various parts of her body,
“You
aren’t
dying,”
he announced,
and every time he said it it may as well have been a speech from the president
for how prolific it sounded to her ears.
And when she left that night,
her shoes
were the hopeful ones.

She asked me once,
“Does anybody else ever wish that
the white coat man
was your father?
Has anyone ever thought it?”
My Rosie told me once that her father
used to close all the blinds in the house, shut every window tight.
Some nights when he hadn’t taken his medicine
he would make her push all the furniture in front of every entrance and exit to the house.
He said they couldn’t leave.
He said they mustn’t talk or they might hear us
and she never knew who “they” were
but only that she loved them, all of “them.”
Why?
Because he did.
So they pushed lazy boy chairs, dressers, end-tables in front of the front door.
When people kept asking her why on earth she would have done that
the only answer that she could think of to explain it was:
because he makes the best omelette on Saturday mornings,
or,
because his smile is warm like the sun,

I guess it’s a testament to the fact that we can be two things at once.
I guess it’s a testament to the fact that we do it all the time.

So, he made her barricade the world out
and crouch down alongside him next to the door
until the rustling of people subsided

When my Rosie got older, she spotted postmen from far away and watched them push their mail carts down sidewalks,
and door-to-door salesmen,
and women who planted flowers in yards on bended knee as though in prayer,
they were the Amen women, they were the Oh Mercy Me! women.
They were the people who mowed their lawns, and well, pretty much everyone else who walked outside.
She waves at them.
That’s my Rosie.. Sometimes she can’t stop looking, and waving.
I think it’s why she loves people as much as she does.
I think it’s because she loved them long before she ever knew them.
She stared at them through secret openings and tiny crevices within boarded up houses
And, well, you could spend a lot of time gathering up your love in a place like that.
It’s with-rolled-up-sleeves, or not at all, she says.

I go around now telling people about my Rosie
I go around telling them about duality
and how we all stand so close to our own edges
and I write stanzas of poetry that are mostly about the good things that Rosie does
because the world is full of people who become addicted to something
and sometimes the thing they become addicted to, is a thought,
and it doesn’t erase their Love. Or their omelettes.
In fact, sometimes,
it just makes all of it so much stronger.
And what I try to do now, is point out the Gospel of
All The Other Things They Do That Matter.

So here goes:
My Rosie loves to bake. She’s beyond her years in the art of shortbread-making.
She is the only woman, besides my grandmother,
who has ever attempted to brush my hair
and see it through to the end.
She is a connoisseur of cheese and wine and
is resourceful enough ,
even in the depths of her compulsion,
to see the beauty in the tops of people’s sneakers.
Lovingly,life-changingly: those are yours, my Rosie.
Your sneakers are the loving ones.

Ana Marie Boyd is a poet, writer, and educator who lives in Oregon with her cat, Solomon. Raised in a multiracial and multigenerational home, her writing proudly incorporates her Spanish-American roots and explores themes around family heritage, grief/loss, pandemic isolation, community-love, and reckoning.

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