Shade of My Grandmother

“Oh, Playmate,
Come out and play with me… “

When she comes, I’m in her shoes, poised
on peasant feet. She, her eyes
a scrim of smoke, is silent, exhales
sparks of bright light;
and, wind in
her hair, she runs through
aspens ringed by cigar-haze from
the grandfather I never met.
Grandmother sings as grandfather
lifts, ravishes her against
the cellar door. At first light, smoke,
fretted aspen leaves
protect them.
Cellar door, someone famous said,
the most musical words in English,
and, in French, the word
crepuscule—dawn. Both: boy-soldier tunes,
boy who comes home to slide
on a cellar door—which grandmother
thought was a song
about rain barrels
before dawn—when she was young
and didn’t know
what her shade can’t forget:
how her playmate will vanish
babies and debts, haze and silence
and leafless aspens,
while brightness
fades, turning her to a ghost
who no longer greets the dawn
opening a red cellar door.