My Grandmother’s Temperament

"Les Vendanges" -- Natalie Martell

“Les Vendanges” — Natalie Martell

Everything bothers her now
that age has fallen on her
like a sack of wet sand
about her shoulders.
Bending beneath the weight
of years, her back arches
forward involuntarily,
not in prayer but in a gesture of surrender,
much as broken bamboo tree
surrenders to the reign of wind.
Time has made her weary, impatient,
and indifferent to its freshness.
She spits insults at those who seem
untouched by time, whose steps
still skip
toward childhood adventures.
And then sometimes,
for a short while,
when it seems the sand sack is lightened,
she’s an angel of the rarest breed,
gentle in her speech
and armed with a smile that veils her
pronged shark teeth.