Vernix

When you first palmed
my face in greeting when I arrived,

how long did I howl? Or

did I stutter, knowing instinctively
there would be no way to tongue

the right syllables for that wash

of light pouring and pouring
from all sides and above?

And when you cleaned the soft

sludge and bark away from my body,
did the blinking of my new eyes flash

pictures of cypress and pine,

moss and peat, gypsum and shale,
veined limestone? Later,

in the tattered years, I too

looked into the eyes of the just-
born and nearly fell

into a galaxy we have no maps for yet—
where the milk of breath

is something we can only imagine

in the great wordless dream
of our loneliness.

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