“Playing the Parts” (Tracy Anderson)

The lawn chair sat silent enough, proudly
frayed and worn thin just like Great Grandma,
so no one could really say when she’d escaped
from our family reunion. We all stared
at the woven chair in hurt shock, like actors
on a stage who had realized that the theater
was really empty beyond the bright circle
of their own spotlight. The audience had fled.

The kids were given the role of searchers so
we ran around peeking under shrubs, chasing
little old lady shadows who could circle
tree trunks in the blink of an eye. We cupped
our hands at the sides of our mouths, making
the “Great-Grand-Ma” echo and fade, then we
climbed trees to search the horizon, shading
our eyes from the sun with four fingered visors.

A shout from the ball field brought every head
up with a quick jerk, and we heard Great Grandma
yell, “Batter’s up!” Running to join the sidelines,
our mouths hung open in unrehearsed surprise
when we saw her standing at home plate. A thin
braid swung down her back and a pair of tightly
laced shoes shimmied for footholds in the sand
that surrounded a tiny white stage.

With knee high stockings supporting shaky legs
and banding rings just below the hem of a faded
dress, she leaned down to knock the bat on the base.
Her hunched body shook slightly, ticking with time,
as the bat lifted to point at us, the posse of searchers
who waited back stage. Silence came over every
player as Great-Grandma grinned, then shouted,
“You run those lines, an I’ll knock ’em all home!”

NEXT

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