Self-portrait of Our Name
Sometimes our name sounds like
rice and tastes anything more
it would have meant hurt.
When I was fifteen, I watched
the bend of my mother’s prayers
suffering with my newly born
curves, flowering somewhere soft
I thought of her then leaving too
much sky in the wild north of dawn,
wearing bone that fell midway
down the paddy, clutching vegetal
curls heady on the stalks, fore-
head pressed to damp as my once
great escapades from home.
Wiped sweat onto skirt pleats, I
lodged back on old nocturnes held
in the gut by life, plummet of sun
took the long, slow curve into
the bottom of rice field where a girl
walked this land before, lifting
hemlines as to know what seeing
was about her ankles and hips.
Yet things I reached for long ago
seemed too far now. Lately, a body
of my own shaping felt more in
the way of someone else’s storm,
how I born to my mother as a girl of
magic but I was with it frightened
of the moon, and how there was
nothing like the memory of us that
can’t leave me the same, feeling
every cut that won’t close.