Heirloom

Poetry

Sometimes Alice and I call Grandma Cyborg,

because she has one replaced kneecap made out of steel.

We laugh because every day she feels closer to death but

her kneecap will survive us all— edges slightly rusted.

The rest of us turn back into concrete and loam.

When she rolls up her pant leg: a swollen,

indistinguishable lump the size of a toddler’s head, a pink

shiny scar straight across it. A hit and run while on holiday

in Australia. The driver never came back but I imagine a kinder

world where the car gives a bit of itself up as a consolation prize:

a hubcap for a shattered kneecap.

Sometimes, Alice and I joke about all the

things Grandma survived: Japanese Invasion,

Going Down to the Countryside, Famine,

Washing Clothes in an Icy River, Three Childbirths—

Can you believe she birthed Big Face Uncle? Can you imagine

that size head coming out of you?— One Childdeath.

Her kneecap will be our first family heirloom.

The Japanese took everything when they came.

The Communists took anything that was left over.

Red and yellow silk qipaos, inky paintings of the Guilin mountains,

jade seals, pearl adornments for the daughters’ hair.

It will be on our mantle.

One day, I will pass it on to my own daughter.

One day, we will serve houseguests salted sunflower seeds in it.

One day, we will strike it like a gong.

I hope she gives it to me in her will.

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