Walking with my grandmother, so beautifully effortless at 10,
down the Venice Beach boardwalk, a dozen dimes in my pocket
for ice cream, the fingers of my left hand
already forming a ring around the cone
because I believed that firmly in ice cream,
in 3 scoops of mint chip with jimmies,
and just past the singing rollerskater, Grandma
chops me down to the quick,
calls my name in the hot sun, then screams out "BAD POSTURE!"
as if a purse were being stolen off an innocent woman's shoulder.
Moments later, she's putting icy hands on my shoulders,
pressing them in, trying to undo the damage I caused
just be being a preteen, so loose with my own body,
I couldn't have seen it coming,
the awkward knot my bones would make just growing into themselves.
There was no time to apologize. I felt only
the eyes of the beach's happy, tan citizens,
saw what they saw, an old woman bending
toward a young girl and wiping the sun off her face.
Like a storybook villain, like sudden, cruel shadow,
she took my ice cream dreams away, and left my palms singed
with the terrible smell of iron.