A Letter to my Grandmother


I don’t know which of my parents promised you a “polite young lady” for a granddaughter,

but you should probably ask for a refund.


Because I remember, seven years old, Thanksgiving dinner,

you said to keep my elbows off the table

sing-song of Mable Mable so strong and able

good enough to have manners but not to occupy space

the way my little cousin did while he scarfed his food next to me

his elbows almost in my mashed potatoes

and while he shoved second and third helpings into his wide mouth

I sat with my napkin in my lap and took “polite” bites

and did not eat a second helping because by the time it was “polite” to reach for the food

I was no longer hungry.

The next week at your house

I cemented my elbows to the laminate tabletop

trapped my napkin under my plate

and ate more chocolate cookies than anyone would deem “polite”

while your ancient body quivered with disappointment.


I would apologize for never remembering if the butter knife sits to the right or left of the plate

but I have no need for knives when my fingernails are claws

and my teeth are a sheath

for the wit-sharp silver-bright sword of my tongue

forged from the iron in my blood and purified to unbreakable steel

by the fire in my eyes.

My bones are made of dust

from the body of a dead star

that grew and grew and grew until it could not occupy more space

and exploded across the galaxy;

a supernova glows under my skin.

I am not a “polite young lady”:

I am a goddess born from the death of a star

and divinity is my birthright.


I wonder why you don’t shine as bright as your silver-white hair.

Maybe as you grew you doubted your right

to take up space

and so you faded,

but I promise I will not do the same.

I will continue to burn bright

and so you can turn away


or watch me shine.

Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741