Had I been raised by doves wouldn’t I have learned to fly By wolves to hunt in packs Had I been raised by gods wouldn’t I too be godlike In the movies the orphan is the killer not loved enough unwanted But wasn’t I most wanted My mother fish goddess dove into the sea for the sin of loving a mortal man I love a mortal man too At night I coax him from sleep rousing him with my mouth By day we build high brick walls around us our Babylon Had my mother lived to see me rise from this boundless deep would she recognize me as I have grown large and my arms have become the long arms of the sea reaching over and over for the shore
I dislike uncertainty. Take no pleasure in the element of surprise.
I’ll carry the clipboard and checklists around
at my own birthday party. No need to leave anything to chance.
It was my son’s idea of course. There was a plastic pirate out front
and the promise of treasure at the end. I paid, then
shuffled behind, his voice ringing out, follow me—
All glass and mirrors. I saw myself reflected a thousand times
all of them weary, impatient. Some days motherhood is just
din and obstacle. I was thinking about
the letter I had received. Another dead end
in my family search. No contact information, no forwarding address.
No one—no one—had been looking for me.
At a certain point, I stopped trying. Extended my arms and felt
along the walls for edges. It was cheating maybe but plodding along
without pleasure or intent doesn’t get you to the end any faster.
It’s been forty-five years. My mother, my father, they
are not getting any younger. Perhaps I waited too long. Perhaps
if I had started earlier there would have been other options. Other
people to reach out to. I read once in my file that I had
a “very good memory,” that I memorized the names
of all the neighborhood dogs. I would like to know them now.
I saw him before he saw me. He was looking around and pacing
not panicked yet but on the verge. I stopped and watched him for as long
as I thought he could bear. He turned when I emerged at last
and ran up and showed me the flag he had won
for making it through first. You were so slow, he told me. It was so
easy. Next time, don’t take so long.