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  • Sienna Leaver

Salt Water & Alzheimer’s

My grandma & my grandpa have afflictions: one of the mind & one of the body.

And sometimes they switch places — it's fitting that I got both of theirs.

Destined to forget, destined to sink, destined to be preyed upon

by fate. I'm one of the golden children who tarnish like silver.


My mother's mother wanted to be a detective

which is cruel that she didn't make it because she was brilliant,

smarter than any man in her class. But a woman,

& so she settled for a life raising children to forge their own paths

in her place because if she could not,

maybe they could.


My father's father wanted to be a fighter pilot

which is cruel that he didn't make it because he was brilliant,

a shining engineer, a glider. But ill,

& so he settled for sailing the waves he wanted to fly over.

“Fly onwards, fly upwards,” he said,

as he dove deeper.


They say that blood comes through the lines of

fathers & mothers. My mother's mother lived fast & died slow,

forgetting her place in the world. My father's father did the opposite,

lived long & has yet to die. Touched the bottom of the ocean

when he could have had the stars.


My father became a fighter pilot, my mother a firefighter;

war & humanity run cold through our veins.

In an excess of dreams & an absence of opportunity,

we are made into our parents’ shining hopes;

we are who they want us to be.


I'm my mother's mother's granddaughter & my father's father's grandson

& I'll be made of dust if it’ll mean I won’t tarnish. I don't want to be

the next shining daughter & son in a line of fools. I've got

the body of my grandmother & the curses that come with it,

the soul of my grandfather & the broken dreams that are my birthright.


I'd rather burn up in the fire than fight it,

I'd rather soar than fight a war. I'll live like my father

& die like my mother. It runs in our blood, this twisted legacy that

started in the dreams of my mother's mother & father's father,

rearing like a leviathan to take my siblings and I

down to the depths of success & failure;

we are who we are made to be.


We are shattered-glass dreams, sharp and

dripping like seawater through the generations.

Broken kids & crying children,

striving to fix our parent's mistakes

not realizing that we are theirs.


We are mothers & fathers, fighter pilots & firefighters,

bitter rivals & starstruck lovers. We're kissing in

the back of trucks & we're trying to leave

behind the shadow of these small town days. We're climbing the peaks

because they're there though we must fall. We’re singing in the rain,

dancing, crying, relearning to live, learning to fly;

Always learning to fly.


We're bright enough to see the stars

& dull enough to reach for them.


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