a squeezing pain in my chest
like a heartache
a lovely name for
a gagging spasm
a clutch like angina
a plumber’s snake down my throat
a twist of an alien anaconda
a word sounding like accolade and euthanasia
the difference between an anthem and anathema
An ache in Asia


My great-grandmother Augusta
saw leprechauns daily.
She shared her high four poster bed with me,
age three.
I slept on the side against the wall.
When wee green men
danced on her chest of drawers
she would yell for my mother
to bring a broom
and sweep them away.

My great grandmother was thin
and wore cat-eye glasses
and she’d say, “Let’s go for a walk
around the block”
and take me by the hand
and we’d walk a few laps
around the dining room table.

Her second childhood and my
early childhood coincided,
so our minds
were in agreement.
We liked tea parties
and doll babies,
nursery rhymes and songs in the dark.

She was weakened
by ovarian cancer
but we’d rush to investigate
when my mother told us there was a draft
in the living room.
We expected a giraffe.

When the ambulance took her
I spent the first night in that high bed alone
I rolled to spoon with Nanny
and fell hard to the floor
breaking a rib and collar bone
and ending up at the same hospital
but in the pediatrics ward.

They said she was up
with the angels in heaven
but I determined fairies
came to her rescue instead.