a Cost Plus amulet made in Taiwan
was placed in my hand while I still trembled
in post-op. In my haze I pictured
the roses patients get on TV, petals fragrant as skin.
Home from the hospital I dismantled the necklace
filling one bag with coins, another with bones
then lay in bed, teary from the stapled incision.
My cat, skittish and unable to meow,
crawled into the crook of my arm, having heard
the cry she’d make if she could, and I decided
to string those bones as wind chimes that would sing
to the two of us our little fears. Some gifts
suggest what might be ahead. Others
echo the past, like my vase that leans west.
A retired neighbor gave it to me as she whispered
that she survived Hiroshima—her insurance company
must never know. Now she takes Ceramics 101
for the sake of clay she shapes and glazes
mushroom brown, then decorates with a bamboo
pattern that imprints black inside the kiln.
Like it or not, she can’t escape the motif,
mushroom and shadow. After all that heat,
the thin neck leans. She knows I don’t mind.
She knows what I’m learning now.