Willing herself steel on the tenement rooftop
where the pigeons roosted and ate crumbs
from her hands, near dusk she watched
their steady flight above cracked brick
and the wash snapping against lines
in flags of gray with blue beyond and refused
to come down for dinner, my grandmother
showed me the scar where her mother’s frantic knife
sailed across a plane of water towers and steam
and plunged into her 4-year-old back, of slanted metal
angles past a horizon lilac with smoke, New York’s
metal wires and iron gates, chimneys and the tippy buses
crawling along the Brooklyn Bridge on their knees
and one small fingernail slant of moon.
Meghan Sterling’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Rattle, Rust & Moth, SWIMM, The Night Heron Barks, Cider Press Review, Inflectionist Review, Sky Island Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review Westchester Review, Pine Hills Review, Mom Egg Review and many others. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, a Finalist in River Heron Review’s 2021 annual poetry contest, and winner of Sweet Literary’s 2021 annual poetry contest. Her collection These Few Seeds is out now from Terrapin Books. Sterling lives in Portland, Maine. Read her work at meghansterling.com.