I wake to the sounds of laughter and lively music (jazz, I think) flowing free from the empty tenement down the hall. The smooth harmonies and upbeat tempos expand to fill every corner within me. It’s an early Saturday morning in spring and warm enough to leave my sweater hanging in the closet. Daddy reads the newspaper headlines, a ring of cigar smoke encircling his bald spot. My younger siblings are spread out in front of a black and white TV screen watching Felix the Cat, and I stand at the kitchen sink rinsing the breakfast dishes, still listening. I am almost twelve. As the oldest, I’m expected to help Mama in the kitchen. My blue eyes usually ride the sunbeams while I wash. I also greet the cloud sculptures, carved from my imagination, as they blow by. Today, the kitchen curtains are drawn, and only soft, morning light filters through. I tap my feet and continue to wash, losing track of time while staring at the panels of tiny yellow flowers.
When Grandma floats into the kitchen, vibrant and carefree like a butterfly, I feel her there. She asks me where my head’s been, knowing the answer but choosing to snap me back into the reality of dirty dishes. Before I can speak, she picks up a sponge and starts washing. She’s never far away when I need her. I am, what she calls, the keeper of her gift - the only one to receive her sixth sense. My mama calls me foolish for believing. She says there’s no place on this earth for a girl with a head full of impractical dreams and hopeless plans. She wants me to grow up proper and civilized, but Grandma knows me. She understands that my mind and feet are always on the move – twirling, skipping, and dancing to my heart’s latest song. Grandma encourages me with her love and acceptance. We feel the same spirits on the wind, we listen to the guiding whispers of our ancestors, and we know the colors and music of our souls.
As I finish washing the last dish, Grandma starts to dry. I look down to see her toes tapping to the same rhythm as mine. I ask her if she hears the music, too, already knowing. She doesn’t answer; she just smiles lovingly with her wise eyes. She never complicates life’s truths with unnecessary explanations. She speaks to my soul without a word from her lips. If I live to be ninety-nine, I’ll never stop believing.
I brush my granddaughter’s hair
and look into her blue eyes
like mine - full of deep secrets,
she’s ready to share.
*Prose ending with a dodoitsu
By Rhonda Johnson-Saunders, 11/21/15
for Scott's Haibun Free-Style Contest
Copyright © Rhonda Johnson-Saunders | Year Posted 2015