Sand Mandala with Ancestral Names

for Anna Laura Grace Elena

The crushed rubies and sweet woodruff are Angelina,
who died of her ninth bambino, making a bed of her
memory for her two-year-old Laura who would see
her mother’s ghost ever after on the landing, backlit
by gaslight and need.

The lapis lazuli and bluebells are Annie, Angelina’s
seventh-born who died of a kitchen-table appendectomy,
making a veil of her memory for Laura, her sister, to wear
in perpetual mourning and for her little niece Elena to
feel ethereal whispers of tender angelic regard.

The citrine and thyme are Laura, Angelina’s last child,
Annie’s sister, mother of Elaine, who lived in the glare of the
the sun with her shades for one hundred years, making a fist
and a wink of her memory for her children to learn to pronounce
themselves with effervescent fortitude and steely, vigorous joy.

The opal and lavender are Elaine, Angelina’s granddaughter,
Laura’s daughter, Annie’s niece, who offers her ninety-five years
as a testament to intelligent kindness and self-determination,
making a cradlesong of her memory to keep her children safe
in the lilt of her boundless and deathless belief.

The turquoise and sage are Ellen, Angelina’s great-
granddaughter, Laura’s granddaughter, Elaine’s daughter,
Anna Laura’s mother, who is here still, her heart scarred
and toughened with surgical scars and devotion, making a moon
of her memory to light her daughter’s way home.

Kate Falvey’s work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including four previous issues of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks, What the Sea Washes Up (Dancing Girl Press) and Morning Constitutional in Sunhat and Bolero (Green Fuse Poetic Arts). She co-founded (with Monique Ferrell) and edited the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech (City University of New York) where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.

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