Passing it On

Sara Moore Wagner

I want to make a child from the one I have lost,

to make the base of her noble by some means, alchemy

the tin girl my father built from junkyard scraps: golden

now. I’ll pull her out of my pocket, hunched

in the woods over a patch of clover, show her

to my daughter, say “aren’t I so lucky

to keep carrying this with me.” Look what I have done

for myself, how far I have come. Bury her deep

in the creeping water primrose roots that strangle

the section of the pond where we search for snails

one after the other, turning them upside down to find a body:

it’s funny what’s lost, how we pull up fistfuls of empty

spiral shells, how I put the girl I have made deep

into the webbing of organic matter, say live or at least

absorb the heat from the August sky, the tilt of the moon,

Neptune to blue your eyes. It never has worked that way.

Instead, the metal of the girl I let die leaches into the water

supply. We drink it and swell with the grief of being born

like this, swell our fingers, our kidneys and toes, grow

so large the world won’t miss us. How we burst open,

vermillion the bank of this quiet space we’ve tried to sacred,

how we are just one little color now: red. Better for it.


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