Hannah Rousselot

Smith College


In the bones

of my grandfather’s basement,

I inhale the dust

that created my family.

I discover a book and blow

off the age. In my grandmother’s

handwriting: Book of the Dead.

On the first page is a greasy



The salt sucked at his feet,

leaving blisters.

He pushed at the water,

and it pushed back.

It blew through his bones and

smoke was buried into his pores and

grease from his boat soaked into his skin.

When he came home, my grandmother

sat him down and licked the salt out of him.

She spat the remains into a bucket.

When she finished, she added water

to it and poured it on the flowers.


My grandmother woke with salt

crystallized on her cheeks.

She put on her rough slippers

and walked through her quiet home.

She avoided the pictures on her wall.

She opened the door to her yard,

cringing at the sunlight,

and called her remaining children.

When she had nothing to do,

she sang the songs her mother

sang to her during the war.


There are no gravestones

in La Tremblade, France.

Only pictures.

I turn the rasping pages,

hoping the memories will leak

onto fingers, so I can suck them off.