top of page

1935-2021

by Heather N. Fuller

In between the open doors

Of grandmother's old house,

Folded up somewhere between her hospital bed,

And all her cherished pottery, gathering dust on the shelves,

It feels like I'm finding that I am made of porcelain, too

Fired in the kiln of long summer days,

And the heat that pours out od the oxygen machine.

Shaped by my mother's check, and she pressed her face against me

The west spots left behind like glaze of deep, dark blue.

The coffee of our morning routine is as bittersweet as the days that follow,

And I could swear I'm seeing a line forming inside my mug, right where I like to leave space for cream. Like the ceramic is memorizing me.

I wonder if there are marks on me in the same way,

Like years from now I could still find fingerprints etched against me,

And have something else as solid as her name pressed into a headstone.

I spend my time collecting tissues for everyone else,

Holding them in my hands like coal mine canaries

When they are gone, I'll know it's time to go.

"Gone" seems to be the name of the season,

A feeling as turbulent as the weather,

With rain falling outside in fitful bursts,

Clouds gathering in shades of stay,

But the sun keeps coming back to dry it all away,

Until we are as brittle as old bones.

As weak as my grandmother while she sags between us, our arms hoisitng her up like we are borrowed legs.

Sweating, swiveling,

Swallowing down whatever comes bubbling up our throats as we lift.

I wonder if I am as full of shards as the pot I broke on the strove, popping loudly under pressure and heat, like it couldn't handle its purpose anymore

Sometimes I think that I am as fragile as an eggshell, giving way to sharp taps and spilling over.

Yet eggs are easy to break with a crack but turn into somethiing resilient and unyielding if you squeeze with your whole fist.

And maybe this is that, for me,

That I can find myself unbroken in the middle of it.

I can bury everything I've lost,

Count the callouses on my fingers,

Measure the drops our eyes have spilled,

And mark the mercies I've built up like lines immortalizing growth spurts on a doorframe

I'm stronger now, I'm sure.

My legs have become the stretcher for a fall risk,

And my arms are respite care.

And I don't mean to celebrate it all, like I'm a bereavement achievement

But I am a girl reforged,

Baptized in the holy water of tear-stained shoulders and spoonfuls of morphine.

Tomorrow will be a hundred degrees of encrouching change,

But flowers are still blooming,

And won't they look lovely at the cemetary?

Maybe their roots will find her hands,

and prove, just one last time

That those old fingers can guide something beautiful

To grow.

bottom of page