by Ginger Graziano

My people lived behind Ellis Island lowtide mudflats. City spires rise east through cattails
waving seed grass.

Poland’s dust still under her nails. Childbearing      scrubbing halls
nourished on crumbs remaining after her children fed.

Husband robust, square as Khrushchev      stale beer garden smell      sawdust like broken dreams
covers piss-stained floors.

My mother searches the forest of saloon legs      pulls him home.
another birth.

Three maiden aunts gather behind curtains crocheted around open windows.
lesson learned

stories at the kitchen table...

My grandmother’s hair loosed from the knot at her neck.
Hollow eyes pinpoint sorrow.

I crawled the quilt path of her sickbed, beckoned by her toothless smile,
gray bun low, haloing magic wrinkled face.

Alone I carry her memory.

Ginger Graziano has published poetry and short stories in The Conium Review, Long Story Short, and WNC Woman. A chapter from her memoir has been published in Ball State University’s online magazine, Embodied Effigies.

About Blood—This poem was part of series of poems written for a class, Words on a String.