Grandma Dee’s Voice

Jacob Butlett

is ethereal as a feather I palm in the dark
hallways of memory. Here, I hang
upside-down in a hanging tire, eyeing
silence splayed across Catfish Creek
shuddering with moon. When I ask
my mother, her oldest daughter, What
did she sound like? she mentions
the luster of her timbre, how it shined
like fresh tomatoes on every moment,
moments nearly lost on me, even when
I was eight, eating her spaghetti
heaped marinara sauce with cilantro.
Once, Grandma Dee followed me as I toddled
down kindergarten hallways, drawings
of tugboats & biplanes lining the walls like
windows large enough for us to step through
& slide down swirls of crayon, marker, & glue.
But her voice is a dying nightingale
in my mind, faint as rainclouds pockmarked
with stars singeing night’s quiet rhapsody
while I hope to hear her again. While I reach
out to clutch my mother’s hand. While I try
not to imagine the whir of Mercy Hospital’s
automatic doors. The rumble of Sedans
in the parking lot. The steady smack
of her loafers under a nimbus of starlings
clawing the sun. Then the hiss of the hospital
delivery truck reversing too fast through
the crosswalk, her body suspended
in the driver’s mirrors, her scream skimming
over the asphalt forever. Later, while
she convulsed in the helicopter ascending
to take her to a hospital two hours away,
& my mother & I cried together, our voices
a cortege of song sparrows suffocating