I am happy to announce that my poem “Freesias” was published in the 5th issue of Apeiron Review this year. You can view my poem in their publication (as well as other pieces) here. “Freesias” is on page 64.
I sat on my grandmother’s lap when her arms were strong enough to hold me and she could still speak.
She told me stories about her Sight, murmured to me her premonitions, how she saved my aunt’s house from burning after a midnight dream of black plumes and the foundation disintegrating into ash. She had called my aunt who had fallen asleep with the stove on, the curtains above smoking.
She showed me how to take dead butterflies and press them between the pages of a book.
When my grandmother grew too sick and old to visit us, she moved in with my aunt. I was seven-and-a-half. I can count on both hands the number of times we went to see her, the two-hour treks up from Pennsylvania.
Her bedroom used to be my aunt’s storage, the metal-framed bed shoved up by the half-broken bookcase. Her radio perched atop boxes. Paintings of lakes and family photographs smothering the walls. The cramp of a window letting in a cough of light.
The smells clung like dust in whirring machines. Ammonia. Antiseptic. The sheets my aunt tried to wash regularly, but she worked two jobs and had a grown son who only understood thirty-seven words.
My grandmother’s soft, aged skin like paper was a veil over the shy horror beneath the perfume, like something had curdled and was waiting to be dumped down the sink drain.
My mother’s hand on my back guided me into the room to where my grandmother sat on the edge of her bed. I tried not to stare. I hugged her out of duty, smothering my flinch when she would kiss my cheek and the tubes in her nose would press their cool hissing below my eye.
I gazed past the aloofness of her smile as her voice quavered: look at you, Mariel. Skinny as a sparrow. My sister frowned and my mother croaked: Mom, this is Corinne.
The air tasted like dead freesias.
I escaped to the kitchen and watched how my aunt paused outside my grandmother’s room in the hallway that squeezed her like a blood clot in an artery.
In her house you could hear everyone breathing.