i discovered her envelope of 20$ bills
when i lived with my grandmother.
they were soft & folded away
in one of the dozens of drawers.
her tilted wooden dresser. she was at church.
she was probably praying for me
while i reached my hands
inside the house. the blue shutters
i counted three pictures of jesus &
five of mary. two statues of god.
put her clip on earrings in my palm
like i'd foraged them. smooth fake pearls
& pinwheeling trinkets. all i know about her
comes from that one morning. she folded her hands
in her lap. she prayed the rosary at 6am
each day. she used the pink sugar substitute.
that summer i lived there i slept in the guest room.
it had been unused for decades. dust flourished
on every counter. we drank coffee together
in the rec room. bitter coffee
broiled in the old white coffee machine,
stained around all the edges.
i didn't miss home at all. i pretended
i was much older & she was my mother.
told myself i was caring for her instead of the truth
which was we were filling the space
between our two bodies with mystery.
sometimes she walked in my room
without notice & there i'd be
sitting on the floor like a lost
piece of furniture. i stole one of the bills.
folded it & stuck it in my bra
as if she would search my pockets.
she would never go through my things
like i did hers or would she?
i didn't know the half of her impulses.
i'm lying though, i took three 20$ bills.
i could have taken more. i wanted to.
was i greedy? i tell myself
the job paid minimum. july was
severing me. outside, even the bees
in the crab apple tree talked about my debts.
i don't know where i spent them.
we continued our patterns. i stayed up
past her & skimmed to the television
for anything at all to watch.
i still wonder, did she know?