This is a photo of a photo of me. Believe it or believe it not. But this—this this—is not about me. Or, actually, meaning really, this is not wholly about me. I mean, I am writing this, this this, after all. Well, to you, to you the hailed hearer, I have already written this, this this, is what I mean to mean. And for you, to whom I write, if write for you and not really for me you believe I do and actually mean to mean I do, this, as in this this, this photo of a photo is about my grandma, who was then, and who is still now, but only just just, my solitary living grandparent. And grand she was. Is. Is still. Still is. But quite ill now is she. Thus the just just. The first one. (Just above.) This is a photo of a photo just not long after the first time my grandma, who knows not how to ride a bicycle, rode a motorcycle. And last, so far, time, on a motorcycle, I mean. She held my hips gingerly. Straightaway a seasoned pro, a motorcycle maven was she, instantly. And smiled did she. A smile that could make you, make most anyone, believe in god, so the saying might go. My grandma mothered twelve. Her unruly disciples. Her, their, sanctuary an old, old farmhouse. Timeworn. Remote in a Stephen King kind of way. Animals and horror. And addiction. And adoration. No running water. No electricity. No plumbing. Only an outhouse, an isolated toilet in the woods that my mother’s wayward cigarette burnt down when she was 12. My mother, not my grandma, I mean. 12. Thus (again, alas, a thus), my grandma’s now legendary legerdemain. Her pitch-perfect poise. She joked of “sneaking out of” the hospital just the other day. A modern day Big Chief. Ready to wander. To wonder. World. Big word is world. And this, her droll flight, in her old Irish-Catholic age of 88. Of 88. Eightyfuckingeight. I should be allowed to say. To yell! In the name of all her venerable glory. Can I say that? I did. My grandma. A great-grandma. A grandma. Mine. A ma. Josephine McNulty. Née Robinson. Tough. Obdurate. Tough as nails, so another saying goes. Ghosts. I held my grandma’s arm this summer. This—the summer nine summers following this photo of a photo—summer. A bracelet of paper-thin skin about the birdlike bone, John Donne might write. Hypothesize. But bound those stairs my grandma did. Smilingly. A butterfly-like flutter by. With the wide eyes reserved solely for the sagacious. A religious experience was that touch. My dainty aid. And truly the quintessence of all intimacy it was. Oh that smile! Those blue eyes ablaze. All aflutter I. Those heights of the heart. My grandma. Her essence. The readiness is always all. Sangfroid signified. Warm aplomb perfectly personified. A panegyric for the still still corporeal this is. Dignity doubly distinguished she was, is. Is. Pillar of poise. A lasting candle ever lightening. Guiding. Warming. Stalwart star. Bedrock. Saintly smile. That. This. My grandma. Mine. No; ours. 35 of us, us grandkids. 35! Or so? I don’t surely know. But my grandma does. Along with exact anniversaries. Cards arriving every year. Regular as rain. Penned missives only postbox dropped. Snail-mailed still, to this day, to each of us. My Grandma. That smile. Those eyes. That grandeur. That glory. This story. Hers. Mine. Thine. Ours.
Jason S Polley is Associate Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature. [Click here to read all entries by JSP.]