Aug 5, 2008

The Gift

Written by Lola Haskins

Read by Juliana Gray

Mother willed me a box of ashes from her burnt house.
Maybe they’re pearl-ash, from the tangle of chokers

she kept on her dresser. Maybe they’re what’s left
of the placemats I used to lay out every evening

in the little yellow prefab we moved after the war,
after the six months of Daddy’s silence as

Mother dressed him and fed him and let him
turn his face away. For the rest of his life, he

would not stop her slapping me. Maybe they’re
the books I loved when I was young, the ones

she wouldn’t let me take for my own child,
maybe the cinders of my favorite Djinn,

perched in blue splendor on a stone. If the ashes
were that Djinn, I would spread them on a table

for my granddaughter’s hands to swirl. Then
she’d sit on my lap and we’d read out loud

while dusk settled over the pasture, like the
sweet relief after anger, when fire has eaten all.