the animal scent of the marsh, the brine-soak
of the ocean – rise into your mouth. You swallow.
You are never not swallowing. Its land hums under
your feet. You cannot place the song. Its land loosens
into silt. The rust red dust sinks, is sinking, until it settles
on the flat of your diaphragm. To breathe, you have to
lift entire cities as if holding an offering up to God, excavate
your body from the roots of the family that named you.
You never had their thick drawl in your mouth, how it
stretches every word backwards into a story that glories
the past. Your mother and your mother’s mother could
have been someone, but they only sat watching the world.
Slatted rocking chairs cast them forward then back
then back. The slowed sound of their language lingers,
like the crushed lavender scent at their necks, long
after it means whatever it meant. Your chest is resonant
with human voice. You are both the house and the one
locked out, your flushed face cooling against the windows.
One day you will run. One day you will run back
for the same reasons that you left. You are populated
both with those whose sins are unforgivable and those
who prophet a God to them. Every one of them, every last
one of them, is yours. Every goddamn one of them is you.