By Iris Jamahl Dunkle
The story was a tattered ring by the time I found it—
Grandma hadn’t yet lost the smooth edges of memory
a garnet stone surrounded by a small crown of tiny pearls
with it she paid passage from the poverty of dust
to the poverty of tending children alone.
But still she passed the tattered words.
They blew out of her mouth
like hot garnet coals
lighting the air in red threads—
Fix it. She’d say. Tell it right. And tonight she blew out the coals.