Dondrie Burnham

Writer. Creator. Shapeshifter.

Grandma's House

I’ve never been a country girl.  Born on the Bayou, raised in the house.  I liked books and TV…and Pop-Tarts.  I didn’t like to be jostled.  Still, I wanted to visit my grandmother because despite having one eye, living next door to a woman with 27 grandchildren and 12 house-bred chickens and having wild pigs that needed to be slopped we had a lot of common ground.  Summer at her house was spent checking for Gremlins and snakes, but mostly playing outside.  There were rides in the back of pickups, that time I fell off a giant ten-speed, picking plums and making meat pies with Aunt Pick.

 

What I remember most though is bleach and “hide and go get it”.  Those left me branded. My ma’dea put a cap full of bleach in my bathwater and scrubbed my knees till they were raw.  I was sun-kissed and my knees were dark. I hadn’t yet learned that dark equates dirty.  I could never seem to get clean enough for her. 

 

‘Hide and go get it’ was a game my older cousins played.  They explained it to me by saying ‘You betta not get caught.  If you get caught you have to do whatever’.  I remember thinking I’d be good at hiding but wondering what kind of chores I’d have if I got caught.  I wanted nothing to do with those pigs.  Being fat and unfamiliar with my surroundings, I was the first one caught.  I laughed and wondered what my chore would be.

 

Fingers.  Hands. A mouth on mine. A body pressed against me.  A big smile.  A lesson.  Many lessons.   I learned I could be entered.  I learned that fear and anxiety were neighbors.  Mostly, I learned that feeling disposable and silly was part of being a woman.   That lesson plays on loop.

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