That's how it Goesa
Grandpa Sam kept a cigar parked between lips unlit, like his yellow Cadillac that didn’t leave the lot. Lottie didn’t allow him to smoke indoors.
Gramps slipped his arm around my waist and winked, eyes hungry like his son, my dad. I thickened my skin, unaware I belonged in a fairytale. His nose was as big as a piggy bank. He pulled quarters out, then gifted them to me. Other times he found a folded dollar bill behind his ear.
Sam and Lottie had followed Dad to California. Dad said Sam stole his inheritance (willed to him for a college education when he came of age, from his maternal grandmother but D didn’t seem to hold a grudge.) They lived in the suburban town where I was born, six miles away. Sam claimed he saw a tiger outside the house across the street. When we visited, I could count on lox & bagels and a root beer float served in a tall metal glass with a matching spoon straw.
His doctor told him not to drink, but Gramps kept vodka in his bedroom closet. (Dad did too.)
Once I asked, What is your secret to a long life?
His answer: Don’t wipe with a broken bottle. I laughed, but inside, his answer cut.
It was equally confusing years later that I scarcely cared when Gramps fell out of his bed and died.
His motto was: That's how it goesa, nobody knowsa.
I perch on the kitchen counter, a fairy child, a wisp in diaphanous veil.
Three older brothers rock on stools, argue—the pitch rises—one knows best,
one throws the fastest curve, the third belches
a grand slam! They all laugh.
Our rosy-cheeked Mom refills empty plates with more pancakes and bacon.
I cartwheel off the ledge, spin around and around, shrink down, become a spider the size of my mother's hand where I land as she washes dishes. Without looking, she brushes me off.
Where is Dad?
I crawl into a cabinet with flours and measuring cups, warm scents of cinnamon, unnoticed, solitary, yet autonomous.