Again and again she tells the story
of the dog suitcase
and that one about the deer waking up
in the back of the hay wagon.
She will reiterate for us her tiny glimpses
of mystery and glee and peculiar misfortune
“We put the baseball gloves on top of the mailbox,
so the hounds wouldn’t get them, and so the children
would have a place always to find themselves,
and there would be no loss of anything.”
My mother’s nanny was a 92-year-old black woman who lived
in a one room shed with a coal-burning stove
It was always too hot in there.
She called my mother her baby.
Looking for coal along the railroad tracks,
She picked up a pretty belt lying among the gravel
and it turned into a Copperhead snake.
She told that one over and over again
“It was a dirty trick,” she said.
My mother was terrified of Aunt Lura’s cistern
It was black and full of frogs and weeds.
Her brothers picked her up and threw her in.
She yelled and screamed, and at that moment the boys’
dog ran into the road and was run over by a Model A.
“The Devil always tells two stories,” she said.