Where I’m From

Charlotte Mabe

I used to be the queen
of my backyard kingdom:
the dogwoods subservient,
the daffodils bowing down,
bent with the heaviness of seasons.
A surveyor of sands
moved ‘neath the waves’ whims
washing upon the shores
of a dozen weeks by the sea.
We used to climb mountains,
infinite specks of dirt
compounded beneath footfall and wind’s breath
to rise above the mundane.
The memory is painted in watercolor:
an impressionist masterpiece
drawn and quartered
from brushstrokes of fifth birthdays
and the sound of my mother’s voice
over the phone.
I focus, and yet
it slips away
mottled by our friend time
and forgotten by our enemy heartache.
The exact words?
I may never recall
what was whispered between sisters
or spoken softly by fathers
torn between love and discipline,
but the marrow of my bones
remembers their meaning.
Two parts understanding,
a dash of wry cynicism
and a heaping helping of what was learned before:
we mixed these in the kitchen, together
to make Christmas dinners
and Easter Sundays
lie dynamic on our taste buds
long after the plates were cleared.
You did not ask anything of me
other than undevoted attention to the self;
I seasoned to taste
and still I wonder if I got the recipe right.
These wires, invisible
grow taut with time
as the boundaries of my world grow
and push against yours.
But the dead magnolia in the front yard
need not know my name
to welcome me back
and the words rest heavy
with humidity in the air
between us,
panting with an action potential strong enough
to remind us
that you are the parent
and I am the child
And you only ever fed me with love
and homemade casseroles.

 

T-rex, Marissa Bergmann
"T-rex," Marissa Bergmann
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