My Grandmother is Far Away
I remember my grandfather in the prairie winds.
When I dream of him I dream of geese,
settled in high, yellow grass, and not
of his face.
Instead of his voice
I hear the geese call from beyond
the horizon, the edges of the dream.
When the dream ends
it is blown away by a clear wind that makes my own breath feel
cool and fresh,
makes the geese spread their wings and rise into the sky and
block out the sun
with contrasting feathers that leave trails of brightness on my
Waking, I say
I am remembering.
I say good morning
to my grandfather
and I no longer think of the harsher, clearer memory of
my grandmother on church steps
screaming with an outstretched hand
for the dark, long box,
which holds my grandfather.
A moment of my childhood collapsing under the weight of passing
time and faces.
I remember my grandfather in the prairie winds
I have learned in all this,
in all the passing years
what it is to forget,
what it is to remember,
what it is to put love into dreams.
I’d like to let you dissect me. I’ve come to the conclusion that my feelings are too difficult to explain and too dangerous to set in skin (my skin).
Wait, parenthetical: my skin. I am told that this is part of my trouble: not taking ownership of my actions. Let me be clear: I am hurting myself. Maybe I have hurt myself but this is beyond adolescent self-harm. Write the book about the grown woman who tortures herself and those she loves because of actions she cannot own.
Yes, I am an adult. I have been chased for years by the ghosts of scars. For a while, I thought I was free of them but they’ve reappeared in lines. You’re never free. I can show you.
However, I must warn you that the demonstration will destroy you. The scars will crawl under your skin without permission. I’ll infect you, like I was infected. All my friends do it, now my biographer will do it. I’m sorry, now my audience will do it.
And it is pain. Relentless, loud, itching
Burningitchinginsistentbeginningwithbeadsofbloodlikecursedperspirationfromasquashyou’ve peeled the skin off likechopchop,likescritchscrach slice , likebrightredmarkslikeyeslikesomethingiswaitingtogetoutofyouwhatcrueltyitistoholditallinwhenthosecantakeitallawayandgiveyoua box for your noise.
Well, a thought’s come: giving it to you, my story, is passing responsibility. Maybe I am incapable of ownership. I take it all back. Shoo, now. You can study me when the deed to my head comes back. Ha! Suffer for your sentences! Go now, alright? I’m calling a quarantine. I’m locking the doors.
But—it’s too late. Well, pick your poison, my friend. You mustn’t carry it beyond us. It’s a disease, don’t you know. I have other things than paper. Here: tweezers, paperclips, I like this. There’s always the conventional razor. You can borrow mine. Don’t give it back. I think you’re my ticket out. Keep the razor as a thanks.
Hong Nguyen-Sears is currently working on her MFA in creative writing through the University of British Columbia and holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta. Her work has appeared in Story Shack and Room. She lives in Calgary with her partner and their rambunctious puppy. You can follow Hong on twitter @HongNguyenSe and read her sporadically updated website.