I am offered a pill. My grandmother was not
offered a pill. She died of cancer. She couldn’t
go to art school. It was the Depression. I went
to art school. It was the Nineties. She had the gene.
We may all have the gene. It got to her, the gene.
She ignored the signs. She didn’t know. There were signs,
but she didn’t know. How could she know? The day after
she was gone, I saw her mattress. A vast white canvas.
A month earlier, a child had been bouncing there. Bouncing
near her living body, on a quilt riddled with shapes and colors.
A quilt of joy and suffering. That bouncing the only way
she knew that child. She’d had some chances, but she barely
knew many things. She didn’t know. And then she knew
all at once. Too much. We didn’t know anything. We all
stood around not knowing. We stood around not knowing
but trying, trying to get into art school. Trying
to ignore the pains in the various parts of all of us.