Handiwork

The other grandmother
who lives past the big highway
asks me to cut off her scab
with scissors: the pair
she uses to trim chicken fat
for Sunday Soup in the good kettle.

I have knelt before her so often,
for knee-scissoring, foot-rubbing, rosary-praying,
that I’ve memorized the recliner’s swirly stitches:
a loop, a wave, a loop, a wave.

There is a picture of me
on her lap in this chair
at six months, compact and open-mouthed, as I am now,
as the blades are now,
closing over her lumpy skin.

She cries out and tells me not to,
hands me the Miracle Ointment instead;
I tell her: freezing it, like a wart,
is best—like freezing a chicken carcass for soup
served some other day.

I think of the grandfather I never met.
His work surrounds me, like my hands around her knee:
the stone hearth he built,
the bar stools he sliced from a Christmas tree,
this folded woman whom he married at eighteen,
before scoliosis and arthritis and wounds that stay

and my healthy body
his work once removed.

Kimberly Sailor, Mount Horeb, WI, is a 2019 Hal Prize finalist in poetry, with poems also appearing in Sixfold and The Bookends Review. She is the author of the novel The Clarinet Whale. Sailor is the current editor-in-chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board, and holds a publicly elected seat on her local Board of Education.

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