Christine Perrin

While she stitched, I read stories to her daughter,
especially Roxaboxen where the children built a city
in sand traced in lines of white stone,
where sticks were horses, and the only grave was for a lizard.

Snow was melting, and she sewed seed pearls
by hand along the edge of the dress like snow drops
that hadn’t opened, that wouldn’t open;
then I was walking down an aisle lined with faces.

In that place where the story turns to pathless wood,
I had a baby whose umbilical cord was gathered
around the stem of her neck, and the girl I read stories to
was in the hospital with sick blood.

One of them died and one survived. I made a song
of her name when she was born, just as the girl’s mother
must have done. Though my arms were empty,
I didn’t sleep, I sang it all the night long.

Her name is a flower, Dahlia, that blooms at the height
of summer in blunt colors. The flower has comb-shaped petals
that look like the waxy rooms where bees make honey
from their bodies. I saw one today, odorless it took me in.



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