Aching to find the truth behind the constant
murmuring I seemed to hear all through childhood,
I’d stumble into the kitchen or living room late
at night— unable to sleep, sensing the change
in the tenor of conversations even through walls,
the way you’d feel a drop in temperature. Stale
smoke in the air, stubs in ashtrays; glasses
half-filled or half empty; collective hush,
bodies turning, someone taking me by the hand,
leading me back to bed. Even then I knew
what I know clearly now: that the hunger
to comprehend exceeded the desire
never to be orphaned, never to feel
as a thing severed from its roots.
In school, when girls whispered to each
other or behind their hands about how I
must have been adopted, I kept my dark
counsel, stilled my stoic face even
as something in me felt like a coil
retracting more tightly into itself.
Only decades later did I learn of biology’s
complications: how the body that first carried
and housed me was different from the body
that took me in, that fed and raised me—
And it’s thanks to that time hasn’t sewn up
wounds that glint like fruit in the far
reaches of the tree: whose breath, whose kiss,
whose clasp, all accidents faithful to the last.
In response to Via Negativa: Parts unknown.