My Grandmother Lived in a Tree
Kathleen Radigan
No — my grandmother lived in a tenement house.
When she was a girl, two cats on her lawn turned to dust.
When she was a girl, she sensed me coming.

She called my name and her voice shattered.
My grandmother was born in a dance hall.
No — a fountain sour with pennies.

Her mother brought her up in the Depression.
Her mother made a few bucks wrestling men.
Once, she wrestled the moon and won.

Hung his skin on the wall as a prize.
He was dead. No, some moon was still inside.
My grandmother knew. She winked and he grew

doughy with ardor. They had a secret code, those two
so he let her live forever. No — she’s dying
in the den now as the TV replays nature shows.

She says, “The camera men
fed steaks to those hyenas. Call this nature.
What liars. Pulling tricks to fill a time slot.”

No — she’s sleeping. One room over,
In the kitchen, I am boiling water. Gripped by a grief,
I dial the future on her rotary phone.

I ask, “Are you in there?” A voice yesses inside.
It is my granddaughter waiting to be
in the terrible next world over.

She tells me, “It’s coming: the beautiful future.
You who knew what to say
will be helpless.”
Kathleen Radigan holds degrees from Wesleyan University and Boston University. Her poems have been published in The Academy of American Poets, PANK, New Ohio Review and Carve Mag, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and teaches high school students through a nonprofit.

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