A Powerful Poem About Intergenerational Relationships and Domestic Trauma: Sentinel Gifts

by Elizabeth Jaikaran

Life has taken so much from granny.
but it left behind all of her fears.
A cabinet left unopened and unraided.
For that it has no use.
Her joys, her opinions, her memories —
she laid them down,
surrendered them. And they were collected
and packed away some place so far away
that she doesn’t know how to get there,
all while her amygdala tends
a neat graveyard of
her worst days and switch blades
hidden in sleeves,
right atop her lap.

Each day I reintroduce myself.
She smiles when a flicker of memory flashes across
the hippocampus where two decades of
my rearing
spike to nothingness like mold.
I tell her I am a professional.
I tell her I am a mother.
I tell her I am happy.
There is no response.

I tell her I am married and her,
lips labor to move and twist. Her tongue careens over canyons of teeth and no teeth.

“Have an account that only you know about,” she says.

A spirit suddenly exorcised
collapses smaller in her seat, exhausted from having made the effort to parse through bodies and
rob their graves to
bring me this weapon she will not set down
for as long as she must tend remains in her lap.


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Meet the Poet:

Elizabeth Jaikaran is a New York-based author and lawyer, with work published across a spectrum of print and digital media. She began writing at the age of eight and since then, has published fiction, non-fiction, legal commentary, poetry, and comedy. She is the child of Guyanese immigrants, born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Queens. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Playboy, The Higgs Weldon, Brown Girl Magazine, Drunk Magazine, SILENT Magazine, Literally, Darling Magazine, The Muslim Observer, The Jurist, and the New York Law Journal. In the coming years, she hopes to focus her energies with precision and purpose on the things she is most passionate about, including the pursuit of healing through writing. Check Elizabeth out on Instagram and website

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