Tianni Montgomery


I was eight, playing with legos 

as drawers and cabinets open and closed

to the rhythm of my lungs while they expand

or contract. 

I sat- unbothered- 

the massive friction of two

rocks send waves.

It can terrify those not used to


along faults.

Or if you’re   pushed   into the middle 

of the break, where rock no longer


My fingertips 


aroundscorched earth, 

the heat sprouts 

through cracks reaching out 

like branches to the sky. 

Red fingers              


    onto dry earth

comfortable playing with legos, 

but not with packing eight years 

into a suitcase with hello kitty tags.

But fingernails clipping onto      barren dirt 

is no match for mother’s force


I know I’ll have to let     go


It has been 10 years 

since I’ve seen them.

Hands still worn but more tender.


Life has found a way to bury memories

The way I’ve seen others bury

Or burn 

their ojiisan

            their obaasan


I wonder if they’d blame me

for the language that evaporated

from my pink tongue. 

The way I’d hesitate over phone calls

from foreign vowel sounds. 

Or for late letters 

as envelopes wedged

themselves between weeks of school work.


Do they peer along cracks too?

Imagine if they jammed 

Their head     far     enough

Into it that they’d see me –

the eight-year-old playing legos


I am only so much like when I was eight


Will they always remember what their

granddaughter looks like?

Before dementia makes home 

in the spot right between their brown eyes 

to take hold of memories of hands,

freckled with birthmarks, guiding

my own to form dumplings 

to steam. Watch memories condense

into liquid and roll down glass


Life finds ways to bury memories

the way I’ve seen others bury