Hit play below to hear Diane Glancy read her poem “Meatloaf” and scroll down for the full text. “Meatloaf” is featured in MQR’s Winter 2021 Issue.
Now Great-grandmother comes through the backdoor. Her head latticed like corncribs, her legs tied with chicken wire. Her limbs had been taken quickly apart, bones dismantled, spirit folded up. She moves around the room. Come I put my hand on the table. She sits in a chair. Her eyes are blown out by solar winds. I have heard the breath in her throat when I scraped the rake across the bare yard. Two fingers on her hands rattle like winter leaves on the tree. Words hiss through her head. Do-ga-ske-v-se-gu hanaugh. I shrug in frustration. How do I tell her even the words of her Cherokee language do not survive? I put her hand to my head but she takes it away. She is not deaf or blind! I see her buckskin gnawed by the teeth of wolves. Her feet trail bits of a comet. I put the drip-pan under her. Something like grease spots the floor. Her heart simmers from the long trip and I hear it sputter as she cools. For a moment she seems to forget where she is and I hold a piece of bread to her nose. I pass her my plate of meatloaf. She smiles and I see her teeth collapsed like old stars. She puts the napkin on her lap and prays. Wo-no-gah-le-sd. She lifts the teacup with her two fingers. I watch her eat. Soon I point to the vast plains of space at the end of my porch. She makes a circle with her thumb and two fingers. Even the universe is round and I nod that I’ve heard it’s so. I wonder what turn she missed to get here. I see my thought reaches her. She only stops for a visit, grabbing what she could to wear. Otherwise she’d be invisible to the eyes I have in my head, the little bowls of lard. Pssnah! She spits then sweeps crumbs from the table. I watch the buffalo cross her cheek. Under the buck-skin there are grapevines for her rib-cage. In her pocket a map of pit-stops on the large arc of her restless migration.