“Goody, goody gout, your shirt tail’s out!”
Grandma reached one finger in to tickle my side
as I skipped past her sewing machine.
I squealed and twirled and
tried to wriggle her hand away.
“Land o’ Goshen! What did you spill down your front?
C’mon, we’ll get that changed before supper.”
With her soft, bony hand on my shoulder,
she led me down the hall.
“Skin the cat!”
I raised up my hands and she
slid my little white undershirt
with the pink bow
right over my head.
She turned away to
rummage through
my bureau drawer,
the shiny white one with the
bunny decal on the side,
“This one will do you.”
Grandma pulled the sunshiny smell of
blue and white stripes down
over my head.
“Now help your sister set the table and
don’t forget to put out a gaboon.”
Jean and I would be full-grown adults
before we learned that other folks
have no word for an empty bowl
you set out to hold
chicken bones, corn cobs, and such.

After dinner, when I asked to be excused
from the table she said quietly,
“You don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”
But when she went back to
her sewing,
she let me ride on her knee as she
pumped the treadle.
“Singin’ my little sewing song;
Singin’ my little sewing song,”
I whispered my tune in time
with her knee’s rocking.
Grandma smiled.
She liked it when I sang to her.