Somewhere in Michigan,

my grandmother is dying. I’m learning

to sew again. I pull the thread

through the needle’s eye and begin

to bring two pieces of cloth together.

You don’t have to come home,

my sister said. My stitching is loopy

and uneven. She’s already gone. I don’t need

to make a pretty thing, I only need

to close an opening.

My grandmother was not

a woman who sewed. She was a woman

of tiny porcelain birds. Birds

of glass. Birds painted red

and blue. They lined the shelves

of her apartment. Everything

in that place ready to fly.

Even a cherry branch carved

with the likeness of a hummingbird.

And a picture on the wall

that my sister and I colored

as children: three larks in a meadow,

the sky behind them golden

like we thought we could draw

something holy. I hold my first

row of stitches up to the light.

I don’t know what I’m making,

but I know I want to give it form

and weight. I want to fill it

with something clean. I want

to keep it close to me.

Photo by Sarah Jane Brand