Being Ready

Last June, I took my grandmother
to a rose garden.
Walking back to the car,
we stopped to sit in the shade
of a vast cottonwood matriarch.
Little cotton tufts afloat all around us
at our feet and in our hair.
And she told me about her casket:
solid wood, spring-bar handles,
adjustable bed and mattress,
premium white velvet upholstery.
That it was paid for and
not to let them charge us twice.
I nodded, stunned silent,
totally disarmed by her directness.
Then she said:
“Sometimes I still feel like I’m twenty.”
“Sometimes I’m startled by my own reflection.”
Who is that?”
That it is older now—her reflection—
and etched deeper
than her mother’s ever was.
That she knows her true form:
the taut curves and effortless rapture
that have left her; that echo now
in her children and their children
and their children.
Then we were both quiet for a spell
hot June snow piling up on our shoes.
“Are you ready to go?” I finally said,
meaning, of course, the rest of
the distance to the car.
I think she knew exactly what I meant.
“I'm ready,” she said. “Any day now.
I'd just like to do my hair nice,
put on my best nightgown,
and go in my sleep.”