Public Comment

Girl at the Beanery

By Judy Wells
Friday December 29, 2006

She sits with her  

grandmother, perhaps,  

clenching a vanilla smoothie.  

She has  


ringlets around her face  

which she twists and turns  

with the emotions  

of a story her  

grandmother, perhaps,  

is reading to her  

from a thick tome.  

The girl’s eyes register concern,  

alarm, anxiety,  

and I wonder  

from my seat next to her  

what, on heaven’s earth,  

is grandmother reading  

in that soft relentless tone?  

She does not look up  

at Alice’s face  

(for I have now named her Alice!)  

nor does she seem to notice  

that Alice is squirming  

and clenching her locks.  

What can she be reading,  

this sturdy grandma  

with short grey hair  

and Ben Franklin glasses?  

I want to ask.  







I want to peer over her  

shoulder and see whether  

it’s Harry Potter  

or perhaps The Tell-Tale Heart  

by Edgar Allan Poe  

but I don’t.  

No matter.  

I am witnessing the power 

of literature, the power  

of storytelling, the power  

of grandmas over little girls  

and I wonder  

Who will Alice be  

when she grows up?  

A Ph.D. in lit,  

a poet, or a patient on a therapist’s couch  

talking about the times  

her grandma, perhaps,  

tortured her  

in a coffee shop  

in Berkeley.