Poetry from Hazel Clementine

Grandma’s oatmeal

Today, dear book group, we’re exploring the difference 

between cinnamon, commas, 

and a cheerleader’s ability

Pausing only if grandma needs her medicine 

With plenty of cinnamon,

you can spin a syrupy alphabet in your throat

of phrases and punctuation, new to a child

And my grandma once told me

that if you mix plenty of cinnamon in your oatmeal 

you can bend a period into a comma

with your mind, and

With plenty of commas, 

An elderly man with a surgical mask 

on his forehead, 

may make himself visible outside your window

His acne scars covered – but his infectious saliva

skating on germs until it reaches another mouth. 

It makes me revel at my own grandparents 

and the way their masks kiss and are kissed 

when – They leave to get vegan donuts. 

One moment, grandma needs her medicine. 

She tells me it’s because her mask smells 

like a cheerleader

Highschool is sticking its unwashed fingers up her nose again

Showers in body spray during class, 

the smell of shiny magazine pages and pressed flowers

having a tea party in the split ends of the cheerleaders ponytail

Too much for her to bear.

A T-shirt in the airport says – if a comma isn’t placed 

in front of grandma 

instead of after 

she might end up in our digestive system. 

With a cheerleaders ability, 

you can kick so high 

your leg gets stuck in the lumps of oatmeal 

in the sky 

or, if you aren’t heartless, grandpa says 

you should jump up and down 

until grandma finds the energy 

to crawl back out of your throat. 

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