I remember my grandmother’s house
as a pile of amber ashes I’ve been sifting
through since birth. I’d cup some in my hands
like cool water, lace up my insides then knife all
the seams in one breath, watch them drift to
the rug like black snow and begin to cool.
I’d wade under the rusted aluminum overhang
with my father, peek through faded pink
lace curtains on the windows. She’d offer me a Sprite,
I’d sit on a foot stool in the basement and stare at
old photos while she enlisted him to help her
navigate the present, run an errand or two.
He always looked ready to run, my father,
seated on the corner of a chair with his hands
folded in his lap. Every visit I’d sweep some ashes
into my pocket, take them home and
press them in my diary until I had enough
to decode the tension in my shoulders, the stones in my chest.
I studied the message for days, ran
my fingers over its veins. I took
our sharpest kitchen knife to the pages
and threw a party with the white-lined
confetti, then I cupped some in my hands
like cool water, swallowed every piece and cried.