i imagine my grandmother reading for the second time
She stares at words so long, she witnesses
an unbecoming, where H’s are railroad tracks, and I’s
are the wide-roofed stations. I am my own station,
she says. Ink unfurls from yellow page
like grain, and grandmother proclaims
seventy-eight cents. Then she says invaluable,
intractable. Fatherless hands
invade her arms, her legs. They press into
her chest like a slot machine, twenty-five cents.
Her fingers press a page the way she reaches
for her mother when they take her. Her skin is washed
and wrinkled with a yearning, unconsolable, her palms upturned
in blessing. In her will, I inherit everything
but her tongue. A clunking train passes by my desk
and she is gone. A brown coin spinning into epitaph.
Juliet Lubwama is a Ugandan American undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as 2017 National Student Poet for the Northeast, and her writing has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the National YoungArts Foundation.