Poetry / June 2016 (Issue 32)


Inheritance

by Laura Jew

To another’s eye,
these characters must appear
as a woman gracefully swelled with child
her gaze halfway between
present and future, always.
Before her      a roof, a paneled window,
a breeze on which warm
summers and memories ride.

Even in his name,
my grandfather provided
for his family.

Our tattoos carry legacy
represent origins of the man
whose legs were as thick as trees,
who passed them down to his descendants
so they would never simply walk, but
kick against the ground.

It is a fact that he was rejected
from the Air Force
eight pounds overweight,
returned two days later
to be accepted
a full ten pounds lighter.

Our family knows the value of sweat.

We have welcomed him
as a symbol beneath our skin,
the sharp drag of ink and needle
drawing us into our second inception,
as we were taught through his will
that the dearest pieces of ourselves matter most
when blood is our motivation.

Because it is a fact
that four days after his death date
he opened his eyes from the depths of a coma
only closing them
when the last grandchild had come before him
to say goodbye.

I carry his name at the peak of my spine.

I do not need to see it
to know the weight of what I carry.



 Laura Jew is a Kundiman Fellow and graduate of Mills College with a BA in Creative Writing. She is the winner of CSU Chico's Associated Writing Program Award for poetry (2007) and has been published in Watershed Review, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, About Place Journal. She is currently working on her first full-length book of poetry. 

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