All That Remains

By Jeannine Pitas

The caramels Babcia always ate, peppermints wrapped in their gold and red paper.
The sheepskin blankets, soft as clouds.
The trees that ignited her trembling house, an explosion of late-autumn jewels.
The earrings — silver kolczyki — that dangled like buds from her ears.
The golden fan she brought from China, covered with jasmines and tiny red stones, with birds that tried to be angels.
The teacups carried home from London, from which I drank the sweetest of juice.
The Polish doilies, white as wax candles, each one a perfect snowflake.
The feathered mask staring out from her wall, a menacing butterfly.
The goose down quilts she made herself.
The blue pleated skirt she always wore.
The jar of rice I spilled in her kitchen, the seeds that stayed for years to come.
The endless piles of boxes, a labyrinth of boxes.
The cabinet filled with duck and goose eggs, dried and painted with the tiniest stars.
The Eskimo dolls on her mantel.
The great deer's head staring out from the wall.
The paintings jutting out from the corner, her sketches of midnight forests and wolves.
The dried palm branches peeking out from behind them.
The lamp overburdened with sharp crystal prisms, each one a wayward knife.
The cans filled with pickles, peppers and mushrooms, the windowsills crowded with violets.
The drawers overflowing with a treasure of buttons, like the wheels of long-abandoned journeys, like pearls nostalgic for their watery home.
The orchid corsage she gave me each Easter, the lily she placed behind her left ear.
Our late-May walks among the azaleas.
The veins that bloomed from the hand I held, a vine with too many grapes.
The long lace gowns she promised she'd give me
which now, like everything else, have been torn.
The tiny, musty memory rooms
through which I crawl on hands and knees
in search of those long-swept away grains of rice
those buttons and far-fallen pearls