Self-Portrait Without Parent
Because I have to reach for the cicatrix
of my own life:
a vein I duct-taped to the inside
of the bent lid
of a broken-into lockbox I flooded
with my own
freedoms. I kept the hems of those
feathers, as blue as the Colorado
river we never swam in
again. I kept each tooth you pliered
out of my mouth
and into a test tube as a keepsake.
I reach for your hand,
but it’s still gloved in shadow.
Who are you, really?
And where did you fling the key
to the reliquary
of yourself you never lost? Tonight,
I’m mortal: the clumsy
clink of coins falling in a glass jar,
the vein that swells
in my forehead when I laugh too loud
or cry too long.
Who gets to decide if a tooth is a curio
or a mouth missing
its bone? You asked me — again — to live —
for you. Tonight,
let me siphon the exoskeletons of these scars
that yoke us
into a bowl made of water. I am saying —
finally — no.
Because listen — the song they sing? So
faint, so distant?
It’s only you who still wants to wear it.about the author