“first may then june” by Juanita Asapokhai

by Juanita Asapokhai ’20

Winner- Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Contest

because my father’s sister died I have spent a couple compulsory hours visiting grief in its house 

with its door that always opens but is sticky for me

relegated primarily to the closet but free to roam about the parlor because the grief is not my own

a hand-me-down

a sneaky tax that comes along with loving someone other than yourself

often tacked on long after purchase so we forget that

pain is private in its intensity but wide in its range ––

earth to every end of thread that pulled from the needles inside aunty’s heart 

to an unknown fabric destination,

we must stop sewing, we are mourning the seamstress now. and yet–what to do with all this string and no pin cushion? many of us afraid of the mechanical

jab of the sewing machine

fear more the act of going back to work

or accepting the reality of scissors

or knowing that the job is done but our

hands cannot stop tugging cannot stop pulling cannot stop pleading for 

more thread 

and please send along the thimble as

all this blood will deeply stain the cloth.