Tradition & Innovation
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By Alexandra Grilikhes

Sunk in contemplation of her mailbox
the old blue nameplate huddled
in one corner the dim vestibule
smelling of loneliness I ring
the doorbell. Again. That doorway,
newspapers spread for when it rained
that arched doorframe through which
so many came, the homecare attendants
who couldn't speak English the maintenance
men to change fuses. An old blue pillow
wedged in the bathroom window
to keep out storms, the medicine
chest with sorry small bottles that
were no longer touched, the pale
blue showercurtain dry, the happy figures
glued onto the ground floor windowpanes
now covered with green curtains made
by a cousin doing a good deed. The
wood table I set for the two of us
around which we sat at the last birthday
party all women we lit candles and sang
they gave her a new teakettle which
I now have as well as the table I
camouflage with papers and books
but which under its layers I know was
hers; now mine.

Used by permission of the author. Reprinted from Bridges, Volume 3, Number 2, 1993.