Rachel Abrams

Elegy for My Grandmothers

You would have hated to know you died the same week,
that we had to split our grief in two.
But nature is nothing if not efficient;
a whole generation swept up
and pulled back into the sea,
or the black space between exploding stars,
or wherever it is we go when our bodies
become too small for us.

I wish this was an ode.
Odes are for other people,
and elegies are always for yourself,
and I do not feel like being selfish right now.
Mostly, I would like to walk into your houses
and make the world stop spinning.
Mostly, I would like to pull down every book from your shelves
and sit next to you on your corduroy couch
while you smile and touch the pages.
Mostly, I would like to say, “Who’s this?”
so you can tell me about the old gods in your sepia photos.

Mostly, I would like to say sorry, and mean it.
Mostly, I would like to give you every yellow tulip in the world.
Mostly, I would like to tell you, “I love you” for every day I didn’t.
But this isn’t an ode.
It is just a soft-sinking lifeboat.
It is just matchsticks, and dandelions.
It is just me, throwing a rope to you from Virginia,
pretending it is not too late.

When You Have Two Homes

you are always saying goodbye.
It is always ending,
and starting-over, and remembering.

It is always blue evenings on the porch
and fuzzy radio. It is always

It is always missing something,
a smudged fingerprint,
an over-exposed passport photo,
the lines of your self blurring
at the edges.

It is always leaving.
It is always autumn,
and last-sip of lemonade,
and phone-call squeezed
between the leaf-shadows at dusk.
Twin sighs on either side.
It hasn’t rained yet,
but you can always smell it in the air.

My House

My house with a front yard that’s a sun-doused
circus at closing time
a place for hammocks and loud-footed lizards
with bricks that are handprints from Mars and
Zeus’s molars
bricks that were hotplates beneath small, six-year old sneakers

My house with windows that are telescopes pointed toward Olympus
Lewis & Clark magnifying glass
My house with a front door that’s a curved finger
and a swirl of gold ink on white envelope
whose keys are warm wedding rings
pebbles two parents plucked from shore eighteen years ago

My house whose walls are chipped nail polish and elephant spine
My house whose walls are worn spatula,
hard kiss goodbye, palms that smack and hold in equal parts
My house with a kitchen that’s a ballerina in a music box
a full skirt mid-spin
with stairs that are sleeping basilisk
with floor that is belly of a ship

With a bed that is baptism
a bed that is truck stop for weary prophets
My house with a bed that is North Star in dark night.


Rachel Abrams