My Grandmother Speaks of Beauty

by Kimberly O'Connor

I could eat them with a spoon Herman would say
every time he drove the tractor over and saw
them playing on the red dirt bank: they’d climb up
and up and slide down so fast they wore their palms raw
stopping. Suppose there was a pageant
among them,
he said, which one would win. I snatched

the corn he’d brought and sent him on. That afternoon
I found two of them stripped to their panties, kneeling
over their toys, a naked Barbie on her back pressed
underneath a bear. What are you doing, I said, keep
this door open.
My daughters’ daughters. They blinked
their eyes and didn’t say a word. Suppose there was

a pageant—dark-haired girls, all apple-cheeked, eyes
green as the lake. We put them in the fire truck
for the Apple Festival Parade: look at them wave
and toss down their candy. We should have found
a spoon while we could have done it. Now can’t a single
one of them walk past a mirror without looking in it.

KIMBERLY O’CONNOR, a NC native, lives in Denver. Her poems appear in Appalachian Review, Colorado Review, The South Carolina Review, and elsewhere.