I always felt like a bird blown through the world.
I never felt like a tree.
A year before my birth, Mother, you wished for a son to grow inside you. You’d call him
banyan tree, strangler fig, boy strong as my father. When I came, you knew
a chickadee starving for love could carry no one’s legacy. You called me
daughter who named animals as if they were children, daughter who knew
everything she loved could hurt her—street cats, possums hissing in the dark.
For consolation, you dressed me in pink, as if I’d be your perfect
girl. But I was tomboy, all skinned knees and tangled
hair. Mornings, you’d smoke while braiding me, smooth elastic,
Indigo Girls on the radio. Around my body, the ghost of a son grew.
Jealous, I butchered my Barbies with scissors, played Atari all afternoon—Donkey
Kong, Double Dragon in my bean bag chair. Sunlight seethed with me,
lasered our duplex windows. Love meant learning to run.
Mother, where does it end, this story of us?
Nightmares are death still hatching its secret inside of you.
Only now, my prayers are bioluminescent, tractor beams luring your ghost
planet back. But my memory keeps you breathing,
quiet metronome for cicadas flexing their tymbals in the yard. I talk to you
relentlessly, fevered questions about bodies, children, every
sacred destruction. Blood that won’t stop. When will you answer me? Aristotle said
time is how we position ourselves relative to change, but I want to believe any
universe flexes like Heteractis Aurora, turquoise Beaded Sea anemone. Space only
valley of muscle, and we are the clownfish slipping through each other to another
world. What is a day without darkness? When tumors clustered your
x-rays, Mother, you became infinite. I am not
your banyan, but I root and sow. I’m a bird blown through the world.
Zeroed from Earth, I will not let you go.