Handmade Gifts
Lisa Dominguez Abraham

Handmade Gifts

A necklace of flat bones and Chinese coins,
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.

Lisa Dominguez Abraham

teaches at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review and The Southern Review, and her chapbook Low Notes was published by Red Wing Press.