Really Gone


by Autumn Carter

Dedicated to my Grandmother, Marilyn Kay Blaydes, who died February of 2013 of ALS.

You weren’t really gone; not at Christmas when your
hundred dollar check for your great-grandson’s college
savings didn’t come in with the gushing note about how
proud you are of him (and his Mommy) and something
about Psalms, or was it the book of Proverbs?  Not
in the spring when tulips, always your favorite flower,
bloomed as bright as lemons (was I simply imagining it,
or did they smell like you this year?  Mary Kay hand cream
and the flat, rich, Indiana soil?)  Even when October
passed, carrying your seventieth birthday away on the
same breath of wind as the leaves and the little puffs of
smoke from the rotting jack-o-lanterns finally being snuffed
out; even then you weren’t really gone.  Not until I slipped
into my ivory lace dress, dawned your tarnished gold
bracelet, the one with the five tiny diamonds for all your
hard work at the Target down the street (do you know they
closed?)  Not until I passed the empty chair on my left with
a single yellow tulip resting on its plump cushion; not until
then were you really gone and I finally allowed that one
repressed tear to slip down my cheek, as salty sweet as a
memory — the tear I have been holding in ever since the
funeral service I never could make (Aiden was just two
after all). They probably attributed it to my bridal glow,
but as the blackened droplet stained my ghostly pale gown
and the tulip petals shuddered in the brisk autumn wind,
I knew you were really gone; and yet I clutched your
praise and wisdom and love tightly in my shaking hands,
rather than carry a bouquet that would be here today
and gone tomorrow, and you did not seem so very far

Category: Poetry