5 May 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 1

To His Nephew

In my bureau is a matchbox. I am not going to make this easy for you. In the box there are two cloves, a snip of lavender, and a piece of ribbon. Inside the ribbon, a girl walks tiptoe with outstretched arms past the living room. She is my grandmother. In her pocket, a cinnamon quill and kitchen shears; in the bend of her arm, kith and kin: her grandfather carefully opens a butterfly case in which hearing apparatus of various mammals are pinned. From their twisted bone-skein he hears something like metal and bird in a hallway. I am telling you because you want to be told. It’s the chink (do you hear) of a pocket case of minor operating instruments in an old man’s hand. He walks toward his wife who braces herself on the spiral baluster. Around her neck they say she wore a bite of arsenic in a locket. But I know inside the pendant her mother sleeps beside my eldest sister. Tonight, you will sleep in your room because you are tired and because you do not believe me.

About the author:

Robert Ostrom lives in New York City and teaches in Harlem and Brooklyn.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Robert Ostrom at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 1, where "To His Nephew" ran on May 5, 2007. List other work with these same labels: poetry, prose poem.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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