My grandmother turned 80 this year

My grandmother turned 80 this year.
I burned all my poetry, she said.

We shared a room when I was little
I watched her stealing out of bed
fumbling for her glasses in the dark
when a line was too good to wait ’til day

I burned all my poetry.

She wrote in pencil on scraps of paper
then organized the paper into boxes
then hid the boxes with her sewing and knitting.

I burned all of it.

Other people would have thrown them out
lost them
repurposed them for balancing table legs
wrapped meat like they did with Bach’s scraps

Distill some practicality from this thing called art.

She, of course, burned them.

I can see her now
starting a fire on the balcony
feeding her poems one by one
watching all her years become ash

Reveling
in the tragedy
for
hours.

That’s so typical of you.

Do you know what is tragedy?
My grandmother burning eighty years away
before I could read them.

And I’m no poet.

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