I whittle your life, Agapita Cervantes,
from ink stamps, history books, photographs
as brittle as the wings of a sun-bleached fly on the sill.
I trace your path, as you crossed yourself,
the border, crossed and crossed again,
a baste stitch needling the seam
as quickly as war tore at the threads.
Was it meant to be fleeting?
That Wyoming July you broke
from the white blood
of sugar beets, bore down
and birthed my grandfather,
mi familia secreta.
Was homesickness the nip of an orphan kitten,
chasing your heels from sow to harvest?
Perhaps you were whip-tongued,
a revolution all your own.
If I have only this, let me imagine us here
in the porch sunlight where our chisels glint
and the balsa wood takes shape: spoon or key?
Do you claim me, I ask,
if my eyes, my skin, my words are all wrong?
Cuidado Granddaughter, you say.
No te cortes.
Patricia Caspers is an award-winning poet, journalist, and columnist. Her full-length poetry collection In the Belly of the Albatross is available from Glass Lyre Press. Her work has appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, Spillway, and Sugar House Review, and is forthcoming from Terrain.org. She lives with her family in Auburn, California, where she teaches writing. Follow her on Facebook at @PatriciaCaspersPoet.