I heard myself in every cell the singer sang

The wind in the singer had to pass through her heart

When the queen ascended into view I was with her, hiding

In her darkness. When she fell from favor

I fell too. I governed

Myself with silence. I covered my wound

In my own naked body

I said no protest words when the stranger 

Entered me. I’ll forget his face, I told myself

I closed my eyes and I did not forget it

Though it was many a good thing in spite of this

I did manage to forget: healing

Potions, songs, and secret sounds

The rose with its mouth like a child’s, asleep

Minaret, thorn, spire, steeple

Wishful flavor, exhausted people

Two cups of blood, one grain of sand

Receding flesh with your tooth in its hand

If I knew the words I would bid the mother of us all be seated

As it is I pull out a chair for my own mother to sit in

I offer her a cigarette

I light it for her in my mouth

Copyright © 2022 by Ariana Reines. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 24, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.