arrière-grand-mère claudia

they say my great-grandmother
could with the aid of poultice and incantation
pluck a wart from your body
throw it in the fire and
you wouldn’t feel a thing

my father drove me up
to her funeral along
the frozen connecticut river
the air placid frigid silent
we passed countless covered bridges

after the service in west stewartstown
my uncle the organic dairy farmer
in what may be his only suit
remembered her as the woman
who rubbed a holy medal
on his irreversibly paralyzed leg
and restored its motion

she came from brousseau mountain
and it is said
that ball lightning would roll down the hill
past her house all the time

the last time i saw her
in her wheelchair and party hat
in the nursing home parking lot
in view of the barbed wire fence
of the local prison
they were feeding her low-sodium corn bread
she spoke little but
she smiled wildly and without ceasing
a smile suggesting a world of
beautiful secrets
she’ll never tell

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