Ars Biologica

Monday, July 15, 2013
Forgive me, for forgiving her,
your birth mother. I am unforgiving
unless for selfish reasons, and it seems my reasons
are as selfish as they come. I am trying
to say that I am thankful
for your grief—thankful, at least, that it keeps you
here, where, daily, your cheekbones bend a little higher
toward the stuff Mongolian bridges
were inspired from, and little-woman, or
soon-woman, I can feel you growing
through our floorboards: bones lengthening
in your torso, skin whipped by an upwind gust
of prepubescence and today I bought three bottles
of nail polish you’ll like from CVS, hues
called Not Really A Waitress, Plasma, and If You’ve Got It,
Haunt It, and, though I mostly bought the last one
for myself, I bought all three for
you in reparation for last week’s purchase, Miso Happy
With This Color, which I painted on your toes
and still feel bad about. You know by now
not all of us are Irish. I know by now you knew all along
why Aunt Donna gave you Asian Barbie dolls
for Christmas; why, when you asked Mom
buckling your car seat Did I come out
of your tummy? she said, Grace you came straight from
my heart and then got really
quiet. According to your recent Google history
there are lots of questions you aren’t asking
and that’s probably my fault
since you don’t ask questions the same way I don’t
when I know I won’t know how exactly
to respond, and all of us learn exactly
by example. For example, the drugstore cashier on 106th
is from a town three miles from your own
and all I ever say is wave goodbye.
Or that, with only sisters, I don’t know
how to talk about a brother—yours. He’s probably
with her right now—closing
their front door shut to the cold; turning soap
in his hands. Keep Him Around is a purplish polish
I used on you last month, your sticky palms
quiet on my knees, your fingernails shaped differently
from mine, the family rosary going on and on
around us. This family, like an afterworld.
Our Lady of Loss. Our Lady of Is-There-Something-Fixable-
Inside-Us. I can’t see your mother but I can see you
hate yourself for wanting her. Forgive me
for forgiving her for giving
you away. Mothers are never a metaphor
for something else. Our Lady of Teach-Us-That-Having-Been-Loved-Badly-
Our Lady of Not-Asking-Why. The broken heart has need
for other hearts broken differently, but
one sister in ruin ruins the other sisters
identically. There are days when your footsteps
out our kitchen and up the stairs carry you to places
I can’t find you. Nights when the outline
your body, peach-hot, fevers into your sheets
looks nothing like your own. The past should go away
but never does. It bangs inside us like an
extra heart, though it is not. It is not at all like that.
Monday, July 1, 2013