I have lied about my Nana. 

She was not elegant. 

She was short and round and sweaty. 

In her old-time woolen bathing suit, 

twirling a red umbrella

as she danced down the beach,

embarrassing Mother. 


To guests, she served slabs of apfelkuchen 

with heavy mugs of strong coffee.

In spring, she made elderflower fritters.

When Mother was anemic,

Nana made her beef tea

and duck’s blood soup.


She snooped through the lives

of her younger sisters, 

telephoned them every day,

scolded them, loved them.


When she wanted to roast a goose

she went to the market

to buy a live one. She carried it

home in a basket. On the streetcar.

Mother wanted to be invisible.


Mother wanted to be a lady.

“She’s a real lady” was Mother’s highest praise.

It took me years to shed

the linen tablecloth and napkins,

the bone china teacups Mother

thought I should collect even though

I prefer coffee in a heavy mug.

2 comments on “words: NANA WASN’T A LADY

  1. linda shere says:

    i really like this.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Christine Lee Moore says:

    I think I’da liked your Nana.

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