When the first one came, baptized by water
that flowed from my body and tasted
of the sea, the sea became an ocean
carrying me like flotsam set adrift
to be claimed by another.
When the second one came, my childhood
retreated with dreams of wearing
a white cap, sensible shoes, and now
I wear something easily removed, unsure
if what I hold is apart of me.
When the third one came, I found places
for one and two; the top of a dryer,
the corner of a couch, careful to remember
where I’d left them since I had forgotten
long ago where I left my self.
When the fourth one came, I stopped
pretending that each heartbeat
added to my own would drown
the sound one makes when water
slips silently overhead.
When the fifth one came, I felt only
relief that arms were not flippers,
ignoring the colour of eyes
that mirrored my own in their search
for something to hold onto.
When the sixth one came, I dreamt
they were floating in a transparent skin,
tethered to my breast by a thread
of hope, unbreakable, my identity
no longer perilous.
Footnote: I sent this to my mother on her 83rd birthday; it sprang from my head as I did from her womb, and so belongs to her as much as it does to me.
Image: Water Lilies ‘Aria’ ©Ric Kokotovich http://www.rickokotovich.com