Fairy Great Aunties

By Vogue Robinson

Sleeping Beauty had three fairy godmothers
Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather
They gave her the gifts of beauty, song, and slumber
When I was born, God gave me three roses instead
Great Aunties - Dorothy, Lily, and Juanita


Women uprooted and forced to blend
and thrive in unfamiliar California soil
I thought they were mine to keep

But they were just roses
Each one an apology
for my mistake of a mother

A woman whose heartbeat pounded
as loud as her fists
Anger, always sizzling
in a pot of overcooked pasta
Dependence in her medicine cabinet
Addiction in her diet
Fire in her throat
Hands made of granite
She lacked a green thumb
But my Great Aunties were sown
by a Kansas farmer and they grew


Aunt Lily grew a 50-year marriage with her husband, Pastor Coles
They harvested a church family, but never a sapling of their own

When Aunt Lily died
Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles
was filled to brim with blue roses
mourning the loss of sweet Sister Lily
volunteer, pastor’s wife, piano teacher --
the woman who stopped going to dialysis
after her husband passed


For almost ten years, my sister kept a rose
from that funeral in her bedroom

I remember Aunt Lily’s gift of song
slender fingers too arthritic to teach me the piano
But she taught me love has a lifespan immeasurable

Aunt Dorothy’s front yard had ants crawling
in wild honeysuckle buds
She found herself a hand-me-down son
to help her plant citrus trees whose pollen
danced together to create new nectar

When Aunt Dorothy died
I watched my Gramma bawl
reach into the open casket,
grab her arm and screech,
“Dorothy, I tried to call you, I tried to call you!”

I remember Aunt Dorothy’s gift of gardening
she taught me that love can blossom anywhere

Aunt Juanita, the youngest, planted an entire garden
of sons and daughters
She grew our strongest dandelions

Two weeks after Aunt Juanita died
I found a dead ladybug
I buried her in soft soil
under a California pepper tree
said a prayer and let my last Aunt go

I remember Aunt Juanita’s gift of patience
she taught me how love is full of forgiveness

These women taught me more about death
than the living ever could
About how your body becomes carcass
cousins become vultures
Your belongings
become the cause
of a civil war of paperwork, insults, and pain

I remember their deaths and funerals
better than their lives
I am trying to stop wishing for fairy great aunties
I know these women weren’t myths, they lived
like uprooted plants
I watched them wither and wilt over time

It’s fitting, I found a husband
who doesn’t believe in buying flowers
When I decided to buy myself a rose
I paid a woman to sew a string of memories
into my forearm with an electric needle
so my Great Aunties are remembered
as beautiful, brilliant, alive

even after...


Vogue Robinson recently became Clark County’s second-ever poet laureate. With a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, she has dedicated herself to expression. She spends her spare time with family and as Executive Director of Poetry Promise, Inc. Vogue will be participating in the  Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl  on Saturday, September 15 in Reno, as well as the    Las Vegas Book Festival    held on October 20,2018.

Vogue Robinson recently became Clark County’s second-ever poet laureate. With a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, she has dedicated herself to expression. She spends her spare time with family and as Executive Director of Poetry Promise, Inc. Vogue will be participating in the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl on Saturday, September 15 in Reno, as well as the Las Vegas Book Festival held on October 20,2018.

 
Cheyanne TreadwayThomas