Spilled Rice

Laura Bennett

2004 Third Prize

Snow fell yesterday like
the bag of white rice I
spilled on grandma’s blue carpet and she told me
can’t-you-ever-be-careful
her voice was like gnarled bark
and she knelt to pick up rice
grain by grain—
with the snow I remembered
her loose skin hanging
from pruny, sun-spotted arms
as she scooped
spilled rice
into a dustpan.

Rain pounded yesterday and
sluiced down the windows like
glossy veins
with the rain I remembered when grandma
started crying
sitting amidst the scattered rice
where the hell is grandpa’s old vacuum cleaner? she asked
too loudly, while
I swallowed the air in my throat
and bent down to help her
but she waved me away
her knobby fingers fluttering
then turned
her back to me
as though I hadn’t already seen the tears
bunched in the corners of her grey eyes
and snaking down
through the crevices

Wind screamed yesterday as though
it wanted something that we had taken
with the wind I remembered how grandma
exhaled a grainy sigh and
dragged a bony hand across her damp face
as she heaved herself to her feet
I wondered why she thought she couldn’t
let me see her cry
or let me know
that after 8 years
she still missed grandpa
and that even with spilled rice
she remembered.

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