Grandpa used to tell stories
about the night I was born,
said a lost sparrow with cockeyed feathers
hopped across my right shoulder
and left its mark.
Shifting the sheaf of hair
mom refused to cut short
and craning my neck,
I could just see the cluster
of sharp-edged W's etched like tattoos
across the scalloped scoop of my bones.
In summer heat waves,
I learned to weave my dark tangles into braids
and let the claw strokes breathe,
the thin straps of feather-print shirts
pushed out of the way.
On those days,
Grandpa claimed I could lift my arms, wing-like,
and fly myself into something new.
though the sun is high
and summer nears again,
Grandpa is gone
and I am weighted by dark moods
and black mascara.
Standing at his graveside,
I tell him stories about the parts of him I miss
and the parts of me I hate
but cannot change;
the parts I was born into.
A phantom breeze clutches
the fresh bob of my wayward hair
and for a moment,
I can feel his work-calloused fingers