you unknown root
my wild card
I had you, old woman
with still-dark hair
squatting by the wood stove
hardly glancing at the tiny
girl, the post-war baby.
my daddy told me we
were Blackfoot from you.
so in cowboy games I wore
backyard feathers. later
in his dream west he
denied you with bitter jokes.
you faded slowly.
my sister never saw you
but she found your marriage
online, all we have besides
snapshots and myth.
scant offering
I can make you, great
grandmother: you stand
in a hayfield stuffing
mattresses, squinting
into sun; my child’s imprint
of heat and cold and your
old eyes. I have nothing
you loved best or tokens
from any you treasured.
take me, then, take my
silences, my tacit pretense,
my letting go till truth
thins into lies.
lest I too fade,
take these words,
whoever you were,
a little starburst into darkness,
the color of curious blood.
A. B. Emrys’ criticism and creative work has appeared in many journals, ranging from Prairie Schooner to Danse Macabre to Mysterical-E. Examples are at
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