Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Poem Written in My Grandmother’s Dress

Rust orange and brown checkered,
thick but not quite wool. Not quite

cotton either though I can’t name it,
can’t identify it on the internet either.

So I resign, run my fingers along the hem,
try to hear the song she sang into each seam—

guess how many times she slipped it over
her dyed black and permed hair, lotioned

white face. I estimate the exact place
it might have fallen over her pantyhose

covered knees. This is real vintage
from my grandmother’s closet,

and yet, I can’t even ask her about it.
I couldn’t ask for it then either—

my mother translated. My grandmother
smiled, pulled it out quickly and put it into

my arms. Gently, I held each end over
my head and slipped myself underneath.

She placed her palm on the small of my back
and said, hou leng, hou leng to my

reflection in the mirror. Of course, I fit
her dress the way I never will her tongue.  

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