Ornery

Author | Ariana Nelson

My Grandmother says I am ornery. I smile at the word.
She says it like a compliment as she, too, smiles.
And she taps the end of cigarette to cast away the ashes.

She chases her thoughts out the window and across the yard.
Her eyes are far away and the lines on her face a lovely map,
A canvass filled with secrets but it’s no secret she has cancer.

My Grandmother is ornery too. We smile at the word.
She gazes out the window, the smoke from the cigarette
Clouding her face and forming symbols in the air.

I try to read them, like divination, to decipher the map of her life.
Where had she been? Where is she going? Is there time?
But there is only smoke and fire and the defiance lit in her eyes.

"You’re ornery,” she says, stamping out the cigarette and swatting
Away the remains of smoke. I realize then that she is talking to herself.
My Grandmother is too ornery for cancer to beat her.


About the Author | Ariana Nelson is a poet, fiction writer, and blogger.
When she's not writing, she's editing for The Allegheny View, her college's student newspaper.
Three of her poems have been published in Aberration Labyrinth and another poem published this year in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.