What Grandma Read at the Bottom of My Cup

The hand that strokes the sleeping cheek will throb
with self-control: a pulsing power station.
Kindness is titanium. So plant.
The seed will burrow up through dirt and time
as air becomes a tempter’s kiss and rain
prophetic. Allow these things and life will burst
and course through hand-strewn ashes. Blind river.
What burns grows back, and a promise is a promise,
so why not reap—but only keep what’s yours.

Click here to read Felicia Sanzari Chernesky on the origin of the poem.

Image: “Cuppa” by Craig Morey, licensed under CC 2.0.

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky:
When we were kids my paternal grandmother occasionally read our tea leaves. I found it exciting, mysterious, and a little scary. In truth, I was always a little bit scared of Grandma Sanzari. (Everyone was.) Not until I was much older and learned about her history did I begin to grasp that it was the depth of her experiences—particularly as a very young woman—and the volcanic breadth of her grief that made her so daunting. Recently, while reexamining my own history, I had a vivid memory of Grandma telling my fortune, and this poem poured out. In shaping it I recognized that she was giving me the advice of a survivor.

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky
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