Parable of Disobedience

In stories we were told, the theme
was always obedience— or else its opposite,
faithlessness. The girl who lazed in bed,

luxuriating in the gauzy envelope of mosquito
netting that made it feel like she could set
herself apart for just a little while

from the world: how, not rising quick
enough to the summons of her mother,
she was turned into a plant

stagnating in a pool of water. Hollow
stems, the damp carrying through her limbs
as constant reminder of callousness.

In parables, intention doesn't count:
there is only what's done, and the penalty
that follows after. No one cares about

nuance or motivation. And in this lifetime,
will we ever be allowed to tend to that
first house of the self without incurring

the wrath of the ancestors? The alarm clock
rings in the early dark. You want to stay there,
but the morning beckons like an ancient curse.

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