Grace Q. Song
For once we are together in the same room,
looking at each other in the blue kitchen light.
Our separate lives bookmarked and left
on read: paper sighing on the desk,
sour yellow gloves limp near the sink.
In six months, I will be eighteen,
and my sister is old enough to be disillusioned.
Twelve hours into the future, my aunt
and her husband wait for us, tucked under the roof
of my father’s phone. In between them
and always: my grandmother, her hair
blown and bed-white, her body hauled
like a ship onto the wheelchair.
We know what to do. We say her name,
throw out a line, a face, to fish her back on,
until the strangled echo of a groan falls out
of her mouth. We want her to thaw,
but who can return again and again
without consequences. It’s not enough
to remember but sometimes all that’s left,
so we move closer. Then my father counts to three,
and we begin to sing, our voices like ravens,
trying to find each other in the dark.
We sing happy birthday to my grandmother
who turns ninety today. She is dying,
we know this, and we are singing
happy birthday, and there is no cake.
Grace Q. Song reads “Birthday”
Grace Q. Song is a writer residing in New York. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, PANK, Waxwing, The Journal, The Cincinnati Review and elsewhere. She will be attending Columbia University in Fall 2021.