Freesia McKee reviews Lesléa Newman’s “I Carry My Mother”

lsleanewman.png“I know how to make matzo balls/big as fists/and how to live on nothing/but cottage cheese, cigarettes, and air/but I know, too/that my mother is involved/in everything I know”

Last year, I watched my mother lose her mother. As my grandmother approached hospice care, we sorted through her stuff. My grandmother hoarded things: coffee mugs, clothes bought from garage sales, cookbooks, newspapers. My mother and her sisters spent weeks clearing out half a duplex stuffed with our matriarch’s many belongings.

My grandmother saved many things, including items from her own mother—my great-grandmother. On the day I visited the emptying house to divide up items with the other grandchildren, I found my great-grandmother’s purse stuffed in a drawer, full of what was in there when she died in 1990—a full wallet, pens, tissues, all the items intact.  Continue reading