The clothesline, Grammy quipped,
is a tree house string with a can
where women gather to swirl
a rumor in lukewarm tea.
Watch your back! she warned.
The birds have ears.
They’ll carry a secret around the block.
They learn to sing from listening.
Grampa grinned from old cocoons
of hammocks on the shaded porch.
Aware she was his brick and tree,
his every grain of reasoning.
Amazed at how tortilla flesh
stood up to welcome mats of graves.
Amazed at how she passed the sun
from fingertip to fingertip
as if it were a flaming torch.

Those full-lipped white magnolia smiles
wove lasting garlands in my hands.
She spoke directly to a rose
as if its infant needed her.
Flowers learned to kneel in moisture,
then revolt again toward light.
Epiphany was just a page
of cotton shirts, blood removed,
sleeves relaxed like bygone ghosts.
Her stomach wiggled when she laughed —
bowls of tested gelatin.
An apron for her negligé…
the teeth of a washboard for silk
and a good book of dreams
to balance a menu of hail.

*First Published in Stirring Magazine

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