Ode to Interior Life

Were you born alone or
did you grow up with others?
As soon as you gained some sense 
of discernment, could spell
your name and recite the alphabet,
read books (what is a chapter book
anyway?), were you taught to run
your fingers down the roster of words 
in both dictionary and telephone 
directory? In an emergency, were you
capable of calling the family doctor's 
number and summoning him, 
through tears?  Come quickly, I think 
someone here may be dying. 
You knew the smell of fruit
pinched too soon off the branch,
of blood bundled into rags 
and tossed in the trash; the look 
of skins palpated for fulness 
or its lack. When you became 
more shy and introverted, you 
could understand why others found
you strange for preferring prisms 
blown from soap and the sap of pounded 
hibiscus leaves. You didn't always remember 
the distinction between latrine and labyrinth, 
cold brew and plain iced coffee. 
But it pleased you when your tongue 
could unlock the undertones: vanilla, five
spice, orange peel, extra anise.  

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