A Poem For Friday

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“My Great-Grandmother’s Bible” by Spencer Reece:

Faux-leather bound and thick as an onion, it flakes—
an heirloom from Iowa my dead often read.
I open the black flap to speak the spakes
and quickly lose track of who wed, who bred.
She taped our family register as it tore,
her hand stuttering like a sewing machine,
darning the blanks with farmers gone before—
Inez, Alvah, Delbert, Ermadean.
Our undistinguished line she pressed in the heft
between the testaments, with spaces to spare,
and one stillborn’s name, smudged; her fingers left
a mounting watchfulness, a quiet repair—
when I saw the AIDS quilt, spread out in acres,
it was stitched with similar scripts by similar makers.

(From The Road to Emmaus © 2014 by Spencer Reece. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Photo by Patrick Feller)