Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
– Psalm 23:6
Grandmother, I remember your love—
how its wings flared out
at odd hours. It’d be close to midnight,
sometimes, when its feathers tingled
with the sudden precognition
of a storm-touched wind. Talons latching
snick-snick onto the phone line.
You were just calling to check on me,
you said, and one by one
began to drop small, warm questions
like pebbles into the cup of my ear—
Where are you sleeping tonight, my dear?
Grandmother, your love had a perch
deep inside my body, followed me
every night down the hall. Do you have
your own bedroom, over there? I don’t
want you to have to share. I made sure
to lock the cage so it couldn’t escape
but you’d taught it all your tricks. Far inside
the forest of dream, your love’s black sliver
fluttered in the corner of my eye,
leaving crumbs to bring me back to you.
While the scarlet tongue, the great hairy paws
softly cracked me open.Where does he sleep?
Grandmother, you had me running
from the wolf—had me fearing
the creature that raised me. Don’t give him
what he wants. Don’t let him touch you.
For so long, the nightmares had me
disobey. I walked the boundary
between fable and truth. And still your love
hoarded other girls’ private tragedies—
beak clipping them from the headlines,
dropping them into my lap as it swooped
in low circles overhead. Waiting for me
to look down, find them transformed
into pieces of a mirror. It was years before
I could tell for certain—what nicked
the blood from my finger was not glass.
Only paper. Grandmother,
I know what love is now. Mine has grown
too big for me to hold in my arms.
It’s fur and fang and dark eye watching
you sleep in your bed. It draws the curtains
to keep out the sun and gently crumbles the bread
it has brought in its claws—all the better
for you to swallow. Your love has fed
my love. Has become sweet marrow
in my mouth. This is how
the story ends—you are tired,
Grandmother, and the bed is so warm.
Stefani Tran, 20ish, has a BFA in Creative Writing from Ateneo de Manila University. Her work has been published in SOFTBLOW, QLRS, and CURA. Persephone has literally been her favorite Greek goddess ever since she was wee, half because of a children’s book, and half because of that one Extreme Ghostbusters episode. Find her on Tumblr at http://stefanitran.tumblr.com.