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The Stars


By Skyler Rutkowski

My grandma is cleaning the cupboards

I made a mess of, when I ask if she regrets it. 

I am the only one in my family 

who treats her human. 

No beat between she tells me, 

“How can I regret anything, 

when I have memories 

like this?”


Her kitchen is a time bomb

I’ve blown up, covered in the chocolates

We make together. 

She’s been crying, 

¼ heart-ache, ¾ nostalgia, but that

doesn’t stop her roaring thunder laugh. 

She is all warrior and grace

in ways I can’t quite press my finger to. 


It’s been years since my grandfather left, 

and she’s never made me prove that I am 

cemented to her, 

family, even without the blood. 


Her fingers have never knitted

but the way she hugs can be described

as a favorite sweater

that’s been worn too often

to ever come clean. 

In all her fears, love has never been one. 


Later, when I call her

tell her I made it home

I do not tell her all the ways she 

taught me to be gentle. 


When I finally see her after 

months of been busy and 

we’ll make time soon

she tells me she is broken. 

I tell her she is unbreakable

but even still, I am here. 

I try to make a mirror of my words

so maybe she can see the flowers in her smile. 

I have learned everything I know of love, 

from her. 


I’ve read that the only parts of the human body

that does not age, are the eyes. 

In hers, I can see every good moment

fighting to the surface

and in them, I see my arms out

loving guilelessly, 

ready and willing,

to teach all I know of love

right back to her. 


The sun falls behind the clouds that bring

night back to us, 

I’m recounting all the ways she has

healed my breath back into me. 

It would take lifetimes to emulate her. 

She is more revival

than most of us. 

Previously published in Emrys Journal

Skyler Jaye Rutkowski (she/they) is a queer poet from Buffalo, NY. She is the non-fiction editor of Variety Pack and the author of A Mountain of Past-Lives & Things I've Learned (Blazevox, 2019). Her work has been previously published in Ligeia Magazine, Ghost City Press, Emrys Journal, among others. Find her tweeting @skylerjaye23 mainly about her dog, but also sometimes writing. 

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