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Prayers for Grandma

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

During my grandmother's final days, I would sleep beside her on the bed, since she often had nightmares and would wake up in the middle of the night. Every time she exclaimed "ai-yah!" in fear, my heart would jolt and I wanted to tear apart whatever darkness was threatening her peace. It's been six years already, and this is only the second poem I've written about her. I willingly chose not to fly back for her funeral, so I never saw her breathless body. Cairo dust swam in my eyes, the day of. Publishing my first collection of poems helped bring more closure. I just remember having so many dreams of her this year for some reason, waking up with wet eyelashes, and feelings I have yet to understand. _______________________ I lay beside her

Two heartbeats,

women of the same bloodline

a seed and a grand oak

Perhaps the last time we were this intimate

was when she held me as an infant

looking into her future, my hazy expression


Now I stroke her hair, wipe the beads of sweat from her forehead

I warm her hands with a prayer

My broken Chinese, her labored breathing


We dream together, another night

Sometimes neither of us could sleep, and we would

exchange stories in soft decibels, things of the heart at 3 am

Once she too ran carefree through the town

touching Anhui bark, singing and out of breath

Filled with dreams


I curl into the hospital chair as she tries to sleep now

connected to various monitors, try to calm her as she tugs

at the vessels transporting her blood and nutrients

Still she manages a weak smile,

the warmth of many sun-filled days,

breaking across the sea of my emotions


Could she find heaven in those final moments

did the light chase away the shadows

That's all I want to know - December 2022

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