By Diana Raab
The day after I found grandma dead,
my mother bought me a journal.
Through its pages, I spoke with her,
sitting in my walk-in closet,
clothes draped over my face.
Twenty years later, I visited a psychic
who invited me onto her faded
needlepoint chair, just like Grandma’s.
No crystal balls or tarot cards, just deep eyes
putting mine under a scope,
stripping me of all I thought was mine.
She knew everything about me. I shook
beneath my olive skin, tottering between
wanting to know everything yet nothing.
A yellow light surrounds you, she said
and as a healing vapor, Grandma’s spirit
surrounds you. She told me to channel
with her, she held a secret.
That night lying in bed staring
at the blank ceiling obstructing my view
to her heaven I told Grandma I wanted
to speak with her the next day at eleven.
At the strike of eleven, she whispered
my name; her voice velvet to my ears
asking if I recalled the hours before
her death, our walk around the block
and her secret. My memory and limbs
went numb as I was lifted
up and thumped down again. Was I
on her heaven or was she on my earth?
I lost all sense of place.
After a paralyzing silence,
my grandmother whispered of a gift
in her closet in her room next to mine.
The next day I ran up the creaky stairwell
and frigid iron banister of my childhood home,
flung open grandma’s closet door,
where her fragrance, Soir de Paris
still lingered. Her image flashed
like a spoon of honey to my heart.
From the shelf, I grabbed her journal—
typed musings on loose yellowing papers laden
with strikeovers, on the same typewriter
she placed my six-year old fingers.
Her life spilled over its pages like merlot
upon a white tablecloth—the wars she fought,
the dances she danced, the bridge games she won,
the lovers she had, and the passions
haunting her sixty-one years. I sat
on the closet stool, head buried in knees,
crying until I heaved and then finally stopped.
It suddenly hit me.
She’d never know my secrets, but I knew all of hers.
Writer Diana Raab lives in Santa Barbara, California. Her memoir, "Regina’s Closet: A Granddaughter Discovers a Grandmother’s Journal," is due out in September 2007. She is working on two other memoirs. The image at the top is a painting called "Grandmother Moon," by David Beaucage Johnson, an Objiwa Native Artist from Ontario, Canada.