by Melissa Ho

Mom, look at me
—   I tell you
some girls are born backwards:
heads folded in like take-out boxes, beds
littered                      with cathedrals. I name you
after the scene on the hospital television:
a blonde mouth burying a whole country                
with new language.                  After this,
I do not speak for weeks. In the garden, the insects
           swallow our winter melon, flood the earth
with blackened sugar.                        An unspoken ritual:
we eat until our stomachs swell. After you, white
hands              dip into me like American moonlight

           four more times:
a complete family. Like all good mothers,

           I offer you names that fit inside the
umbrellas of their mouths       burn myself out of you

           and scatter this old country around
like ashes. I answer every telephone with I’m not home

                      then drown rice in dollar-store
olive oil                     every meal unfurling with grace
           say thank you for your round green eyes       and
new skin       every angle cut with a rainless storm
           of both my body and the other
a gift I worked for  dreamed of
           at night when I would pray for a clean body
so hungry    so still            that I opened myself
           to the smallness                     of children instead

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