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Suzanne O’Connell

The Night Grandma Died, I Dreamed I Robbed A Bank

The last time I saw grandma,
she was in the Arbor View Nursing Home.
There was no arbor, no view.
Grandma complained that her roommate
had sex in her hospital bed every night.
When I asked her if she needed anything,
she said a different roommate.
And, she added,
black fishnet stockings
and two cans of Schlitz.

The night grandma died,
I dreamed I robbed a bank.
There was a bee in the getaway car.
I steered with one hand,
swatted at the bee with the other.
I drove faster, downhill.
I could hear sirens.
I cranked the window down
to let the bee escape.
Wind opened my money bag.
Cash flew like a green snowstorm in the car.
The sirens got louder.
Then I woke up.

When I was six,
grandma and I sat in rocking chairs on her porch,
a bowl of mocha ice cream cold between my thighs.
I read Shakespeare to her,
I brushed her gray hair.
I threw apple peels over my shoulder
to reveal my future husband’s initial.
She asked what I wanted to be when I grew up?
I said I wanted to be a bank robber,
so I could buy her
an inside bathroom
chicken not from a can
real fake teeth
and all the Schlitz she wanted.

Fire In My Neighborhood

They said, Jump to the black places.
So we hopscotched through what
was once our neighborhood.
Steam rose from the broken concrete
as we surfed through walls of fire.
Deer passed us, going
the opposite direction.
And the heat. I had no earthly idea.
The heat created a new natural element
that combined fire and air.
I named it Chinese Sky Lantern.
Because as we got hotter,
and there were no more black places,
we became bubbles.
We filled ourselves with light that night,
floated over sticks of trees,
melted cars,
footprints of houses.
We became Chinese Sky Lanterns,
and we floated away.

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