On Lineage



On Lineage



I’ve never met my grandmother. She exists

in tall tales and stories to shiver your bones.

The last time my mother saw her,


she chased her out of the house

with a knife she was using to chop onions,

the sour smell infecting my mother’s eyes.


They welled with tears amidst all those

quick movements and heightened senses

necessary to evade cold violence.


My mother sprinted out of the house and

never returned. Now


My grandmother resides in a facility

situated on the side of a mountain

in Puerto Rico, confined to a wheelchair,

prisoner of her own mind.


She’ll never again realize that today is today.


I’ve never met her but,

when I do–because life has that sort of funny inevitability,

I wonder


if the chilling history

will provide context for the ghost

of a grandmother. Or will she be


just another human, dragging her pain behind her,

like chains scratching against concrete, until

they’re nothing but brambles made of rust.



Nicole Bird 


Nicole's career began with a degree in Creative Writing. Her focus then shifted to garnering degrees in Film Production and Screenwriting. Afterwards, Nicole worked in film, while writing and producing her own short films. Now, Nicole works as a Creative Writing professor and is currently at work on a collection of poetry, as well as honing her gluten free baking skills developed during the 2020 quarantine.


  1. i can appreciate this angle of view point. all too often we make pain in the ass relatives into saints because we want to protect the family. telling the truth once in awhile does not hurt -- in my opinion. editor, keep this writer. do not let her go.

    1. it's a valid point and sometimes these matters are best explored by writers.

  2. welcome back, queen syra, glad you are doing better. you know, you're right, i had a grandmother who was cranky and behaved poorly and we laughed it off and pretended it never happened. i wonder what we would find it we just sat down with her and actually had a conversation. prejudices come in many forms and fighting them too can mean different avenues. this poem is one example.

  3. when i first read it i got mad but i soon realized that's how we hide inconvenient truths to protect people but who do we really protect by doing this. Is it so shameful to say my mother struggled with mental health issues? We have to do better or this dangerous stigma will continue to hurt society.

  4. i always thought it funny how we accuse the government and the church of all these dark secrets while we cannot even tell the truth about our own family. Maybe this is projection. Maybe we hide behind privacy. But still in all it is a version of hypocrisy and it needs to stop. Good poem by the way.

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