For Joanna Rose Costa
I want to bring them back, Louie Costa, Sr. and Rose Leonardo, the great-grandparents of my grandchild, immigrants from the Azores I never met and never will. I see them in this old wedding photo, now tinted by age and the sadness that tints all wedding photographs. I want to know everything about the tall, angular man with the eager-immigrant look that says, “Show me the work and I will do it,” and the petite, gloved woman, with Holy Mother of God symmetry to her face. Her name will join my name to make up the child’s name. If I could bring them back I suppose at first I would try to find some common ground, as people do when they meet. I would tell them I know what it is like to be owned by a dairy herd, to be tied to the clock of cows’ udders. I know the smell of hay, the buzzing flies, the white, forceful streams of pure milk coming with assurance, so close to the manure of the gutter. But I would try to hide what is piercing my heart, the burden of knowing what lies ahead, the worst thing imaginable: one of their children, the girl with the heartbreaking blond ringlets, will burn up in a fierce fever and die in their arms. As I lower my eyes, helpless, I notice the slight warping, the small unevenness in the hem of the bride’s dress. I want to run to get my pincushion, fill my mouth with pins, kneel before them, and make it smooth.