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Yia Yiá, our grandma
speaks Greek — loud fast
whistled through her teeth.
Dressed in black
she walks like an apostrophe
and smells of mothballs and garlic.
She wears black for ever
from grief for our father,
her oldest, favourite son
who died in a car crash
late one night
near our home in Athens.
Every day we visit him at the cemetery.
The old priest opens the gate —
his eyes squinty, tired from so much praying
lets us in.
A scarecrow man —
chimney hat, scraggly beard, hair twisted in a bun
dusty black robe faded from the sun,
frayed where it drags on the ground.
He sighs, then stumps up the hill in the too-hot sun
pulling himself along with his walking stick
to the tiny white church
that smells of incense and beeswax.
Yia Yiá pays him to light a candle
and say a prayer.
He tells her for a few cents more
he will light a bigger candle and say a longer prayer —
But she only has a few cents
and we must come back tomorrow.