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an orchestra--a hen is better than an egg tomorrow
by Francine DuBois

I. The Hallway

There hung a photo
Of a dancer from the 1920s,
Maybe earlier,
And although the chronology
Couldn't have worked out,
My young mind didn't know it.

I swore the lady in the photo
Was my grandmother.
Why else would she want that woman's photo there?
Who else could it be?

The arch of her back,
The curves of her arms,
Both hands held at one side
With feathers, oh, the feathers.

II. Blue

I fell in love with the color blue
Around my sixth birthday.
It was the typical thing:
The eyes of Paul Newman
And Steve McQueen,
The endless August sky,
A parrot, a Chagall.

My favorite movie stars
Were all in black and white.
I had never seen their movies,
But I had felt them all in my bones
And they were all so glamorous.

I'd my own plays outside
With the barn cats and the dog,
Pressing nail holes on the siding
To switch between Bette Davis,
Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant.

III. "God Wouldn't Let Me Sing"

She used to rub my back
Before naps.
Of course, she'd fall asleep first -
Running after a spunky youngster is tiring.

The easy listening station churned out
Percy Faith and Bert Kaempfert
And I'd stare at the wall,
Making up lyrics for songs
I didn't know.

IV. The Chicken House

In the late afternoon,
After sitting in the wading pool
With the dog,
Grandma and I'd get the eggs.

She taught me to be careful for snakes
(And to drive over them
Multiple times
If you greet them on a road)

In general, I learned to be careful
Where I stick my hands.

V. Bath Time

At Grandma's house, I got *bubble bath.*
I used an old measuring cup set
To play restaurant in the tub,
Serving up 1/4 cup of bubbles to Barbies.

I used to cringe at certain things she'd say,
Like "be sure to wash your titties,"
Or "bat-tree" instead of "bat-er-ree,"
Or "War-shing-ton" instead of "Wah-shing-ton."

But I'd just like to hear her again,
To feel little and invincible for one day,
Sitting in a plastic pool with a guard dog,
Small and safe,
And nothing to do
Except consider the beauty of blue.

Francine's Version -- Hezekiah's Version
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