Seventeen years ago today
the telephone rang three times.  

Grandma picked up the receiver and listened.
She sat down on the kitchen stool
that was also a stepladder.  

She told me Mom was gone.
I wasn’t sure if that meant
on a trip or dead.  

I guess Mom’d had enough
of me, of us,
and wanted to leave for good.  

I used to hope.  

I’d wait for her,
especially at Christmas,
and on my birthday.  

For seventeen years
Grandma’s tried hard to make up for things,
and I’m okay.  

I just get lonesome sometimes.