Issue No. 11, Winter 2014

Heirloom
for my grandmother

It’s time to return to the old country,

Retrieve my offerings from the base of the mountain
where funeral processions wind up and down all day
and women say their prayers
before and after copulation

Then I can wear long skirts again, and drink from rivers,
and love crude men
without a thousand tongues and letters telling me
I deserve better–

We deserve only what we want.

I will grow my hair long, let the dye run clean,
stroll pale and blonde along the docks
I’ll take sailors home to bed, I’ll bathe them in my tub
to bottle up their salt again
I will drink from them when I am lonely

I will grow ripe and give birth to stillborns,
plant a garden of children then
I’ll eat my education

I will erect altars: dozens the colour of pigeon’s blood
and Catholic blue, and yellow like a yolk,
like a sexless newborn’s nursery room

I’ll burn candles down and drink from their glasses,
drink strong whiskey and homemade punches–

Till I’ve driven off the last of my ancestors,
sitting at my door on their haunches
pleading with their eyes
to forgive
to forgive

This is why there’s an ocean between us,
and depths and a voyage and sunken selves.

Over there it’s always dusk, over there the men must
break their women in
like horses
like coaches
like shoes
like anything that propels you forward, moves

Where I come from it’s always the hour of the Witch,
of looking backwards into mirrors to glimpse
the face of your future husband

They never see themselves, those women–
only perfection
only their perfect selves
transformed into another.


Emily Linstrom is a writer, photographer and performer based in NYC. Her work has been recently featured in publications by Three Rooms Press, Rose Red Review, Project Naked and Ulcer Magazine.