Of Nothing

 

My aunt still calls me Mijo and says
gracias when I take out her trashcans
each Tuesday. She will not let me
respond with “You’re welcome”. 
De nada, I always say. 
A yellow wooden ramp slopes
from the side of the house
to the front door. She walks down
slowly, asks me how I am, tells me
(when she has caught her breath) 
that she is strong enough to prune
the rose bushes. The paint
is beginning to chip and peel.
She invites me in for lemonade
and to catch up on the weekly events:
my cousin is getting married;
my uncle’s Alzheimer’s is worse. 
Heaped on a desk in the corner
of the family room:
a Spanish-English dictionary, 
a dusty King James Bible. 
notepads with the first few pages
scribbled on and torn out.
A portrait of my grandparents
after they moved here from Mexico. 
I never knew my grandfather, 
but was given his name.
My aunt and I say adios and she
walks me to the door, closing it
behind her. The deadbolt clicks
with weak finality as I descend
the ramp and pass the rose bushes.

 

Michael Julian Arnett Biography

May-June 2016 Issue, BOAAT