The Hole in the Bagel
Note: 奶奶 and 爺爺 are the Chinese characters for grandmother and grandfather, respectively.
Elena Lee is a senior at Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She was a winner in the Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Contest and received a Silver Key from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Additionally, she has published work in Rare Byrd Review and is the editor of her school’s literary magazine. When she is not writing poetry, she enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with friends.
奶奶, you used to bring
Canadian bagels in a jumbo Ziploc bag
every time you visited. Fluffier, sweeter, tastier
than ours, and never stale. Little pillows to
cushion the taste buds, spoiling us like only you
knew how. Like the puffy clouds of ice cream
you heaped in bowls that never rained. Like
the time you rocked my tears away on the breeze
when 爺爺 set off the smoke alarm.
Always swathing wounds in your velvet bandages
and silken blankets.
But I forgot that velvet tears and
silk frays, and bagels have holes. Watched
your spool unwinding, the unraveling tugging
and tugging at your fibers. Felt your velvet fade to
lace, then cobwebs. Tried to mend you
with Scotch tape and felt—
I couldn’t sew but
I think I thought tape could replace stitches. I
should’ve slid a pillow under your balding head. Should’ve
stifled your traitorous cells in wool. Should’ve smothered
the malignancy in your bloodstream, should’ve woven
a quilt for your stiffening limbs. But I didn’t
know how, and now
all my bagels come from
the shop in the strip mall.