My Grandma

By Maged Zaher

PROMPT — Who am I today?

At a second thought, why deprive the world of this pain. It is good that my grandma brought and destroyed her children. And that her children tried hard not to be destroyed. And that I watched all of this from close by. That is how I stopped believing in humans' abilities to be anything except what they are. My grandma was mean and scared and scary. She would win the Nobel in fear. Ah, what I believe is harmful. Yet I don't have any substitute belief. I am left belief-less. Just scared. With fear comes lack of love. I hide in women. It doesn't work. It didn't work the first time. When mom went to work daily and left me with grandma. And with this scared woman I learned a version of kindness. It wasn't bad. I also became a commie, and a Christian. I couldn't as a kid believe that God exists though. The pain monsters imposed on others, the way others soaked the pain didn't make much sense. I thought then that to know God exists, things need to make sense. A bit of an epistemological mistake that I learned about later. When my grandma truly destroyed me, thirty years after her death, with the fear ingrained from childhood, and the genetic composition of mental illness. God doesn't make a lot of sense, take it or leave it. Both options are fine. Regarding my grandma, as part of the deal, I seem to get her good teeth. For that I am thankful. Actually no, I am thankful for the whole thing, I am certain of that. Even when she stood me up on the balcony, and pointed to a big movie poster, in the movie theatre across from us, and said, "I will get this monster to eat you," and I started screaming, for hours and hours.

Maged Zaher has published six books of poetry, including Opting Out: Early, New & Collected Poems: 2000-2015 (Chatwin Books, 2018) and The Consequences of My Body (Nightboat Books, 2016), and has a seventh one forthcoming. He has taught nontraditional poetry writing at Seattle University. Maged was born and raised in Cairo, and now resides in Atlanta.