I’m sure my grandmother baked
like other grandmas I knew,
but that’s not what I remember.
What stands out for me is a kind of love
so fierce it terrified me,
especially when I was the object of it.

You could murder someone,
she’d say with what was meant
to be a reassuring smile,
and I’d know it wouldn’t be your fault.  

But what if it was?
I was a contrarian even at six,
my mind going over every possibility,
searching for a condition in her love.
What if I did it on purpose?

Then, you’d have your reasons.  

Perhaps perpetual blamelessness
should have filled me with the ease
I knew she intended,
but I was a particularly guilty child,
finding transgressions in myself
where there were none,
and I didn’t like my grandmother,
she of the hairy chin
and the strange mechanical
smells from chemo.
She had dark moods 
and a sharp tongue
that snaked in all directions.
My grandfather’s arms
were less complicated.

Today, now that both are long gone,
I wonder what part of her lurks in me,
curled up,
waiting for an opportunity
to strike.