To the young boy who raises my wrist
to his forehead: I apologize
for the blessing I cannot provide—forgive
me for what my hands forgot: scales
on the piano, phone numbers of old
homes, the honeybee crawling through
my fingers before it stung me. I do not carry
around my years but shed them
like a husk. Your hands
may also betray you one day, linger
on a surface waiting for a memory
to flood your muscles. The hours
are a syrup you poured into your skin,
the sweetness behind your snap. I, too,
once lifted my grandfather’s wrist like this
to my forehead after a stroke stripped him
of his English, after he whistled into
the evening while he plucked the hairs
from his chin. If I perform a gesture enough
times, it becomes a holy reflex. I pressed
his heat and weight into mine until the air
thickened to a silt between our palms.
Once, he held up to my face a bird he trapped.
Once, I held a bird for too long, it stopped singing.

Albert Abonado is the author of the poetry collection JAW (Sundress Publications). He teaches creative writing at SUNY Geneseo and RIT. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Colorado Review, Hobart, Lunch Ticket, The Laurel Review, The Margins, Zone 3, and others. He is the host of Flour City Yawp on WAYO 104.3FM-LP. He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife and a hamster. You can find him at albertabonado.com.