Werner and I stole Grandma’s Chesterfields
But we couldn’t smoke them in the living room
Where Jesus Christ with His flaming heart bared
Looked at you accusingly
From His perch over the ebony couch.
The next room would have been all right
Had Grandpa not stocked it with Mardi Gras supplies —
Feather boas, gold cardboard crowns, masks and beads and magic–
All highly flammable, and too much fun to jeopardize.
Our Aunt Aurora’s room had a sink
Useful if we lost control of the matches
And Grandma’s room was full of filled ashtrays,
So a couple more butts could go undetected.
The dining room was off limits.
Too much activity there.
Too much cooking and cleaning and snacking,
Too many adults stopping by for a cup of cafe con leche
And sitting at the big black table for hours
Criticizing the golden children
Whom grandma was spoiling to death.
There wasn’t a maid in the maid’s room
But that’s where the pit bull lived
And we sure wouldn’t go to the kitchen
Where Aurora would cook day and night
On her ancient gas stove
In her cast iron pans.
Werner and I eyed the atrium.
Surely, two six year olds could hide
Behind the potted palms
That sat drying out in the sunlight!
We went out there with Grandma’s Chesterfields,
Lit them up and puffed.
We coughed and cried and sputtered, and made such a ruckus
That Grandma came running and found us,
Not sorry we’d been bad
Quite sorry we’d been caught.
She dragged us to the bathroom and brushed our teeth,
Then sat us both in the dining room and gave us homemade ice cream
Because spoiling us was her joy.