Every time we greeted
you’d pinch my cheek
hard, too hard for the tease
you meant it to be. I’d cry
and you’d laugh it off. I braced
myself for your fingers’ vice
Sundays at church. The red of my cheek
a one-sided blush. Then one day, grown to a teen,
before you had the chance I grabbed your face and pinched
hard as I could, a laugh on my lips, a decade’s bruises to avenge.
You never tried it again. And although you’ve been gone for years, I remember
your face snagged with surprise: this grandgirl clacking her claws, skittering sideways.