Walt McDonald The 2River View, 6.1 (Fall 2001)

Aunt Molly and the Widow’s Peace

Aunt Molly kept her head shaved
after the tumor. Gruff in housecoat
and sandals, she waddled and hugged us,
breasts like water beds, breath like beans

and garlic. My brother called her Hippo
for her missing teeth. Uncle Don was gassed
in the First War, and Molly took up preaching
to heal him—Sister Molly, a harmless widow

who read palms, a medium for red-eyed widows
in black. Aunt Molly cared for the faithful,
the desperate. Both knees went bad, wrenched
when she staggered in a trance, or drunk. In bed

with both legs swollen, she swore the divine
had touched her, though my cousin scoffed
it was wine. When surgery scarred her skull
like Frankenstein’s, she waddled, a monster

with bifocals tugged to the tip of her nose.
For weeks, her friend Miss Emily squeezed
papayas and mangos, bathed and changed her
like a baby. We saw them both for months

around the town, holding hands
with strangers, weeping and praising God,
Aunt Molly shouting in a wheelchair,
serene in green and purple turban,

whispering a tremolo spiritual, joined
by frail old couples on park benches,
and men with tattooed fists holding bars
of windows in the county jail.

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2River All is well.