Mi bisabuela got her ears pierced
at two days old. Who knows
who actually pierced her tiny
infant lobes—her mother,
a midwife, a neighbor,
almost certainly a woman.
After one ear had been pierced,
she kicked and squirmed,
so the second piercing
went askew. She was sixty-five
when I came into being.
Whenever I picture her face,
I always see her crooked earrings,
how one always sat a little higher
than the other, her lobes creased
with age and nascent heart disease,
a winking pair of pale blue
aquamarines in a silver setting.
My mother and grandmother
tried over and over to pierce
their ears, but it wouldn’t take.
When I was born, my mother waited
till I was two months old to try,
desperate for me to have
all the giant gold hoops,
big enough for a parakeet to perch on,
big enough to fit a regulation
basketball rim, all the flashy
diamond studs, all the drops and dangles,
all the filigree, plastic, novelty, buttons,
all that bling she and my grandmother
had been cruelly denied.
It didn’t work for me, either.
We tried again when I was eight,
then again at fifteen.
The holes always closed over.
They exchanged looks over
my head and nodded sagely to
each other. “It’s the German blood.
Has to be.”