Decoding

 

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.

 

 

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