Mary Winklebleck Award (3rd Place Winner)

50 Years with Grace

Grandma’s eulogy was the naked truth,
in church no less; Charles told it all,
how he met her during the Palm Sunday
tornadoes – right there in the third pew,
soaked in her too-thin spring dress, thighs
pale, panties the color of plum butter
sparking fugitive notions between prayers—
to hear him tell it, they were greedy
magpies stealing glimpses of each other
as the storm boiled over the ridge-line
confining them to each other’s embrace
for 50 years — they were both contented
birds in a cage with an open door, watching
a blurring thresher harvest thousands of days
while Grandma remained timeless, forever
seventeen in the third pew – peaceful now
as a sleeping honeybee in amber. The choir
rose, singing Hallelujah as Charles dipped
his hand into the water, made the sign
of the cross, put on his black derby
and walked out into a hot August downpour,
heat lightning and potato-juice rain.