We are eleven and our little girl bodies
Are side by side on the levee, touching
Where we lie in the itchy summer grass.
The yellow church dress sticks to my back
And I watch your eyes as you listen
To my whispered instructions, "Let her bite.
Hold your breath and she'll get stuck there,
Not able to pull out." Your saucer-sized eyes
Fix on the mosquito as her abdomen fills
And distends with your blood, the sun shining
Pink through the thinning membrane.
Sweat beads along your lip and you ask,"Why?"
I cannot say that I want to see insect fear,
That I need to watch your blood fill her
Plump as a berry, pregnant with your life
And weighed down by her greed.
I don't yet have the words to explain the thrum
In my teeth and the way your skin smells
Softly of Dove soap and a sharper scent
That makes me lean closer and whisper
About how cool it will be. I eye the sated
Creature and pant, "Now!" You hold your breath,
And for a moment, I see her struggle to withdraw;
I can hardly believe the discovery I have made,
But then, heavy with drink, the mosquito lifts
Into the air, a fraction above your wrist
Where a small welt has already begun to rise.
A swift slap sends blood across my palm.
Your cry is small and stifled, like a kitten's.
I push the bug bits away with the stem of
A wish flower. I write my name in the blood
And press my palm to your little wound.
I think how beautiful you look with your
Hair damp, ringlets sticking to your cheeks, eyes
The color of cornflowers on my mother's dishes.
When I ask what you're thinking, you say,
"I'm a little afraid of you." A new thrill flows through
Me, through my little girl body, and I know this is
Good. I smile and lift the wish flower between us.
I watch you close your eyes. I do the same,
And we both blow our daffodil wish toward the river
That rushes by, ancient and free, singing its
Ever pulsing song along the bend of its crescent
Path and I hum along, knowing the words will come.
I found you at the bottom of my glass
In the last drop of my well aged despair
And something inside of me let go.
Something vital died in near silence,
Just a soft clink of my ring
And the breaking of glass
Far away from where I now stand.
No cartographer could ever map
The distances radiating from here
To all the essential points of my life,
The smiling, the gasping, and the crying out.
Birth, kiss, prayer, a rose dropped into a hole,
And every time you poured wine,
Filled my glass, and held me through the night.
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