Grandmother wore her hair—etiolated like Rhode Island’s April landscape—in a bun pinned above the back of her neck. Atlantic winds rendered the nights cool enough still to warrant a rib-warming chowder for dinner. Upon my request, Grandmother querled my chestnut curls like hers, and we set off for the open-air market, an empty Chinese food container in each of our hands. The quahogs lay across chipped ice like jewels waiting to be set in a coronet. I retold my imaginative observation to my grandmother as we brushed each gem before plopping it in the salted water. When the clams released their mouths as offering their most intimate selves to us in holy sacrifice, she tossed the quobbled meat into the pot on the stove, and she placed the first empty shell in my hair. Newly crowned with a blessing only a grandmother can bestow, I sat at the head of the table with my steaming, creamy bowl, feeling as close to royalty as I have ever felt in my life.
—One of 12 Finalists in MacQ’s
“Triple-Q” Writing Challenge
(She/They) of Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a queer poet, playwright, and storyteller navigating the world with a chronic illness. She is a faculty member of the Community Literature Initiative with the Sims Library of Poetry.