by Tina Hacker

“How could I lose them?”

Like fingers of prickly heat,
those five words scratched
my memory to unearth
the hiding place
I so cleverly created
for the turquoise and pearl drops.
The earrings were all I had
to help me remember
a grandmother I hardly knew.

Mornings brought grief,
pungent as unbrushed breath.
I imagined my grandmother wearing
the delicate swirls of gold,
when she sat
for her engagement photograph,
when she watched
her children prosper in a foreign land.

Passing months, like hands
spreading balm, began to soothe
the harsh red of loss
until one night, deep inside a dream,
I heard my grandmother’s voice.
Her words sanded off
the layer of peace
that had smoothed my sleep.

“How could you lose them?”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Portrait of my grandmother Gitel Weiss taken in the early 1900s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have very few photos of my grandmother Gitel and none showing the earrings I inherited. This picture was torn into three pieces when I found it and now a restored version hangs in our dining room. It took me a long time to find those earrings. Actually I overlooked them time and again in my jewelry box until suddenly I realized they were there. What a relief!

tina hacker

Tina Hacker
has been published in numerous journals and anthologies and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She was a finalist in New Letters and George Wedge competitions and Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. In 2016, Tina was honored as a “Muse” for The Writers Place in Kansas City. Her chapbook, Cutting It, and full-length book, Listening to Night Whistles, can be found on Amazon. Since 1976, Tina has been poetry editor for Veterans’ Voices, a magazine of writing by veterans throughout the nation.

PHOTO: The author in a Belly Tank car restored by her cousin Geoffrey Hacker.