I. Dialogue between My Grandmother and Her Late Husband
I had a dream last night.
Go upstairs and pee. Lie down next to me.
The one where we pulled back the rug to dance, and the dogs
were barking outside the door.
Your nerve pills are by the stove, or else in the cabinet.
And it was late, and no one could sleep, and we named our daughter Joy.
A million years ago.
And we drove from Calgary to Augusta during a heat wave,
and the kids were in the backseat.
I saw you at a dance. I had forgotten your name.
And they fought the whole way, and Danny left his stuffed fox
at a gas station two hundred miles from home.
It was a million years ago, April or else November. It was raining out.
And I cut your hair over the kitchen sink and cleaned the dead
ladybugs out of the lights.
After the war had ended. We were baby fat from chocolate bars.
And I saw you leaving the theatre with someone else, and my mother
told me never to mention it.
A million years. Don’t forget your pills. There’s milk in the fridge from lunch.
And you made apple pie, and we ate it on a blanket in the yard.
Bring the quilt from the sofa upstairs with you when you come. It’s softer.
And Lesley and David spread your ashes in the orchard,
and Danny never came home, and we haven’t touched the apples since.
Come upstairs. Lie down next to me.
And the farmhouse belongs to someone else now. And I never
saw anyone besides you. And how are we supposed to be buried together now?
And is that what you wanted?
II. Dialogue between My Psychiatrist and My Mother
The halflife of mirtazapine after an overdose
is thirtyone days.
I named my daughter Joy.
There shouldn’t be any permanent damage.
I helped her fold her little, yellow socks to keep them
from falling down when she ran, and told her not to cut her own bangs.
We’ll release her at the end of the week.
I helped her rub away bellyaches and gave her ice
for her fevers and listened outside the door, when she had nightmares
and Jack would tell her the story of us all eating
apple pie on my parent’s lawn.
She’ll be sleeping more than usual.
I helped her sew a Snow White costume for Halloween,
and told her to get along with her sister, and taught her how
to fake her own death for a school play.
You’ll need to keep an eye on her.
I made her practice the recorder, and the piano,
and the clarinet, and didn’t mind when she quit them all, and I taught
her how to wash blood out of blue jeans.
If this happens again, we’ll need to take
I taught her how to put on lipstick and how to wipe it off,
and how to turn down a date, and how to safety pin her field hockey
kilt closed, and mitochondria, and the Byzantine Empire.
You can pick up her new prescription
at the pharmacy, keep it hidden.
And how things can hurt, and how to choose joy when they do.
LEAH DUCKETT is a student at Johnson State College