The clothesline, Grammy quipped,
is a tree house string with a can
where women gather to swirl
a rumor in lukewarm tea.
Watch your back! she warned.
The birds have ears.
They’ll carry a secret around the block.
They learn to sing from listening.
Grampa grinned from old cocoons
of hammocks on the shaded porch.
Aware she was his brick and tree,
his every grain of reasoning.
Amazed at how tortilla flesh
stood up to welcome mats of graves.
Amazed at how she passed the sun
from fingertip to fingertip
as if it were a flaming torch.

Those full-lipped white magnolia smiles
wove lasting garlands in my hands.

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