A wrinkled forehead, my mind’s reward for having fallen captive of Marie,
Who wove her flaxen, twilit hair into twin braids she wore on her back.
A love whose wild-rose heart bloomed before my eyes:
From every man’s woman to one who placed one braid before her, ready to
become a mother.
She swaddled the maternal womb that lived in me,
Slumbering in her until born in the body of my daughter.
She’ll find shelter in my chest as I did in my mother’s braid-covered breasts,
Small to lay my head on when my eyes, plagued with torment,
Found a valley of the light of life, stream of compassion,
Until an ocean of love drained it dry.
Mom harped her mother’s silver-clouded strands to the tune of her humming,
Cutting them because trifling with long, ravened hair was a young woman’s lunacy.
My grandmother— a catholic nun turned baptist prophetess—
Smacked my mother’s left shoulder for clipping my infant toenails, as to not cause me
Volunteered me to play baby Jesus in a Nativity scene, appalled that a baby girl
was cast to play Him,
And behind her daughter’s back and against her wishes,
Baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost in the
Dousing my tender crown with a methodically-knobbed current of hot and cold,
Under a three-fingered wave of St. Andrew’s cross:
“May Christ’s words be on his mind, on his lips, and in his heart.”
A hand vined with veins growing from my right shoulder fed my child a bottle of unperishable, maternal
Seasoned with rosewater, mint, and honey—
And brushed her baby-hair with a comb whose teeth eroded chewing the sands of time.
The sea of hair parted into three, brunette tresses—
A trinity of love, hope and beauty—
That I braided together as the Euphrates the Pishon, Gihon, and Tigris, from Eve to
A lone rosary— hexed as it was hallowed— that slithered on her back, between
her haloed shoulders.
Divine fruit of my body, earth brimming of green caterpillars transfiguring into
Sprouting seeds seeking the light of sun that, as my kisses, warms as it burns.
My lips at her feet, white clovers that I planted so that she would not strike her
foot against hard stone.
I dread the last breath she’ll breathe into her child-being and exhale into the
breadth of woman;
When she ceases to be mine and becomes her own.
Gone will be the days when I greedily took her kisses
As apples from a tree whose thick roots shattered its nursery pot.
Stowed away she was in the thoughts of my father’s mother and her mother’s father,
And those of my mother’s father and his father’s mother.
Every woman who called her womb a home— bearers of fruit and crosses—
The heavenly lineage that dawned and dusked
To clothe me with the redeeming benefit of their passion
Will live in her blood as she lives in mine.
Their death, a curse that kept them from those they loved,
A cup we both must drink and cannot pass—
Hers to life, mine to rest—
Taught me to have her in this dying heart, for as long as it beats.