The Woman in My Grandmother’s Coffin

It wasn’t her, I can tell you that now.

The hair was too high.

The lips were too pale.

She had never in her life been that tan.

But what hit me the most were her eyebrows.

 

My grandmother’s eyebrows had always been thickly drawn in.

That way, there was no questioning the expression on her face:

Two high arches for surprise,

Low and with a furrowed brow for anger,

Holding a slight wave in the midst of confusion,

Gently inclined for sorrow,

Curving softly when with a smile,

Barely twitching as she playfully winked.

 

Looking way back it had all made sense.

My grandmother was bold,

proud,

fiercely independent.

She was playing cards and Frank Sinatra in the background.

She was morning cartoons with a break for Bob Barker at ten.

And she was soft

pencil eyebrows

half an inch thick.

 

Yet all I saw as I stared into the silk lined box were delicate,

Perfect eyebrows.

Each composed of a thin line of silver hairs.

Each flawlessly framing a too orange brow bone.

 

I took my seat and said my prayers,

The rosary beads slipping soundlessly through my fingers,

While all around I could hear the suppressed sobs of my family. Still,

I couldn’t help but think of the stranger

lying in front of me.

I couldn’t help but wonder how someone could have made such a huge mistake.

And in the end,

To my regret,

 

I couldn’t cry.

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