Grandmother Portrait

by Judith Harris

Here’s a small gray woman
in an enormous beaver coat

standing at the end of the curb
of a street in Brooklyn, her strapped heel

about to be lowered to asphalt.

I’m strolling beside her carrying a sack,

the sidewalk shaded by cranked out awnings:
butchers, bakeries, shoe repair shops

the smell of rotting eggs,

as we climb up to her sixth floor apartment
with its plastic slip-covered chairs,

the long chain for a toilet flusher,
pocks in the plaster ceiling.

She is my Romanian grandmother
who speaks little English,

but taught me to crochet,

now lost among the broken headstones
of the old gated Jewish cemetery

we passed by that day
after buying our milk and our bread.

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