To a Grandfather

To a Grandfather

To a Grandfather 1276 1920 Kaitlin Ruiz

I was not appointed anything so linear
as a form like yours, nothing
so costly as your eyes—mine
are little departures, stained
where yours had been basins, washed over white.

I got your knuckles—
these game pieces,
dominoes or marbles.
I said, these joints, they were
yours before mine and I take
movement from you in them.

Someday they will loosen
and rattle, white playthings.
For now, I claim some part—
if not your glance,
if not your name.
I fold them like a pocketknife.

They asked, what did he give you,
and I said, only these pyramids
atop each finger for orienteering.
They are little epigraphs, dedications
to every stammering thing I make.

When I last saw you,
you could not watch me, but I turned
from the cheekbones I could not emulate.
I looked at my hands
and yours, beneath shirt cuffs and encaustic I ignored.
I made a fist and I said, there I am,
and smoothed the woodgrain
of skin you cast off.
I curled my fingertips and thought,
there you are.

Header photograph © Melanie Faith.

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