The Showmanship of Philipa Yanës
"He looks like he's got a big butt. Do big butts make you wet?"
"Grandma!" I shrieked and hid the phone, ending my chat
With my latest find. "Grandma, don't say things like that!"
"Why? Why would I not, do tell? It is natural for you to lust over
A well-built butt, young one, young lover. I know you feel on your own
And weirded out by this Eden built for the aged, and the aging alone."
But yes, I did feel that I was one invader of the retirement home,
And yes, they welcomed me with crimson hugs and cheery shouts
As if the staff and tenants celebrated the 20th century air I brought.
"I brought you nothing, Grandma. I had a box, but I ate the donuts."
"Well, it is fine. It is fine. Come and sit next to me. Isn't it lovely?
Look at the orchids! Look at the sunlight hitting those goldenrods!"
For eight weeks, I have absorbed slowly the place that was lively only in the afternoon.
And mother told me to lie about her still being in Paris and I had to edit photographs
Of her next to the Eiffel Tower or whatever, all so she could avoid seeing her Mama.
I wasn't sure if she ever bought into it. I'm pretty sure the nurse staff were judging me.
Philipa always said something amusing. She rocked and rolled and got tucked in a chair,
And I had to watch her rock and roll and get tucked while being advertised to by Grindr.
Philipa was an architect and a perfume-maker. She never dared let run a time
Not to set up a reminder. "Look at that poorly-designed Cathedral over there.
If the Holy Spirit only spoke to me, it would speak like the cold soup I just ordered."
"Time for the coumadin cocktail! Not the fun kind Bummer." And, of course, she says to me,
"In 30 minutes." Then I watched her delay taking meds which is probably the best deal ever,
And it was worth it as as the sky seemed to darken every time she took her pills
As if her mood had always affected the weather. She claims to be a Catholic witch.
I was dedicatedly summoned, some months ago, by the young and gorgeous staff
Of St. Maria's Purple Nirple Homes or whatever dreadful name they had licensed
For my perfume-making elder kept giving them trouble. When I finally gave in,
I witnessed her float for hours, until she finally woke from her medicine... "Those medicines...
They make me dull... I miss being the crazy anarchist I was, making anarchist smells, building
Anarchist towers..." So I decided to help the Catholic witch delay her daily labor. I remember
She used to give me a thousand pesos when I visited her as a kid. As an adult, I knew I'd repay.
Every week, I saw her retain her anarchist witch power and heard her tongue refill with youth,
And I enjoyed every obscenity she would yell as if she were an old granny Ginsberg. Her wit
Was madness personified. Her yells were the yells of the starving, the hysterical, and the naked.
"I got railed in Machu Picchu." "I gave the priest who christened you three handy-jays." "I blew
Many sailors in my time, many rebels in my time, and mourned many from my time
Who then became sellouts, politicians, loaners, captains and cowards, but I do not miss
The years wasted with me just pissing on how mighty cruel this world is for women like me..."
Some times, she'd move and breathe like a poet. She would assign every novelty
Of every employee as a Mr. Lincoln, or as a Rosa Peace, Rosa Majalis. Some times,
She'd be cleverly scientific. She'd tell me the science
Of sweating out a cold and keeping a secret. She'd pick
On astronomers who demoted Pluto, and give a lecture about how
"The scientific term for that sadness you feel after you nut is 'Catholicus guiltus'."
"Powerhouse of the cell, madam?" "Mitochondria." "Who's Shonda Rhimes's cousin again?" "Busta."
Then I'd listen her be open and obscure on her references; swim in her old, mighty age. She'd divulge
Regrets and pains, and unify them. She'd say Mr. Lincoln's mohawk makes him look like a stegosaurus.
"The only time your grandfather really liked me in bed was when I ate his ass."
("That's cool, grandma.") "He never liked having kids." ("That's chill, grandma.")
"I had to scoop your mother into me." ("That's wild, grandma!") "I watched
Another man plow my husband and enjoy it." ("Why would you ever tell me that, grandma?")
Then, she'd point out at the old yeller Rosa Peace and Rosa Majalis were assisting
To a wheelchair. "Last week, I took on that stubborn, thin-bearded nihilist as my latest lover.
That makes four girlfriends and four boyfriends." ("How truly diverse of you, grandma.")
Then she pointed at my temples and said, "Y'know, age doesn't really take away our ability to love.
It's all in the head... All that judgment and that limiting, that's all in the head, Love.
"The truth is that every bit of love ages, whether we like it or not.
Whether it evolve into fineness or into crowded maladroit is the only thing
We have control over. And we have no hold over timing, which is absolute.
And we have no reign over fickle chemistry, or reactions of the family, or even
The degree of how one is married in their fifties, sixties, seventies... It comes only
In the natural. It only knocks you over, occasionally; and mostly in the head..."
Soon, I hope that I will be that old anarchist who shocks the next generation about the skill
Of a foul mouth that will then be housing the cleanest veneers. No judgment and no limiting.
Soon, I hope I will be that Old Toymaker being wistful over long-expired virility. It'll only
Bang over doors, and scream over blankets, and dull over white-noise of the T.V. screen,
Occasionally, and mostly in my head; and taking on lovers for my wisdom-picked body.
...I received a sudden text from a manic Majalis two hours ago.
"Mr. Geriatric Grindr Guy who's always here,
Mrs. Yanës is dead. She will be remembered
As the one who gave a fourth of our tenants chlamydia...
What an angel... (Her last wish was to send her regards to Busta?
Sir, we don't know who that is. Sir, you should send it instead.)"