We Share Our Mother
Take the scales, rub them off
with your thumb, where it slips
in the dip that was left
where you were born.
The trace of the jump downstream--
you carry it with you until you return,
worn and soggy. My month passes without worry.
But worry helps me track the years,
and they look on in vainglorious congress,
where I’m now absolved of writing them in a ledger,
keeping track, the way I would write out the date
on pieces of paper that don’t have the line.
I held it once in my hand, cupped, the way you hold uncooked rice
The baby, so small, I can’t imagine it coming out of me.
Maybe I had peeled it off my side like dead, sunburnt skin.
And right there, right there in my palm, in my shaking palm
the eyes looked up at me, until the wind blew her away
and she was no longer there, and I was no longer asleep,
but woken, my chest sunken in, the air pulled straight out of my lungs
by a vacuum cleaner hose, that didn’t just suck air,
but all the would-be babies too. It consumed all of them,
and there was no bag that I could unzip to scoop them out,
unbutton my belly and stuff them back inside of me.
And isn’t that a furtive feeling, like crushing a chili
between your fingers, and having it burn, until you scrub it off,
scrub it off with steel wool, and when you place the flittering seeds
on your tongue, there’s not even a tickle and you feel washed
of that burn that was only yours to feel, that was supposed to drop
deep in your abdomen. And yet, where did it go?
But when Absalom comes to me, tells me to swim up the river
where I’ll drop you down, out of my stomach, under a rock
that won’t shield you from the current and so, you, unlike all the rest
will be unaware of your true birthplace. And you will only think
I had hindered judgement in the placement of you, only because of the riches
of his cheekbones, I, unable to defend because of my death, only gurgle
in the form of a tiny bubble that you’ll feel under your belly, and you’ll
know it’s time to swim downstream to find your own offspring,
push them along upstream to deposit them under a rock, caught, unhatched.