Jamie Wendt is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Omaha MFA program. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Drake University. Her poetry has been published in a variety of literary journals, including Lilith, After Hours, ROAR Magazine, Green Mountains Review, and Saranac Review. Her essay, “American Jewish Women Poets,” was published by Green Mountains Review. She contributes book reviews for Jewish Book World. Wendt teaches high school English and lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.
When Amma had Four More Months
Between us on her sagging bed
is an old heavy box
I would inherit along with many names.
Amma’s lifetime of jewels
stare into the widening gap between life and death.
Silver and turquoise shine in her shaking palm.
Amid rusting silver charms and flowery pins,
a golden “J” – our shared initial – dotted with diamonds,
slung on a long chain. I pluck what I want to keep.
Her name will belong to my future daughter.
The diamonds I did not take decide to return
many years later in her questions about what remains,
and my young wistfulness, incomprehension
of death and the passing on of things
was like water evaporating from a bedside paper cup.
Amma’s brittle thumbnails open the clasp.
Her hands, deep red bruises
beneath thinning flesh move toward me,
swoop the necklace under my chin, locking it
under my ponytail. We admire my rich image
in the small mirror of the jewelry box.
Amma prophesizes about all the boys,
her pearl studs glimmering in my ears,
begging me to dance with them.