Headwater

Donna Gary

 
 

existing the way I am    

boisterous      my laughter is the only sound

 

in my aunt’s day off       a leggo tower splashing

into crumble      my aunt says be seen not heard

 

be more     quiet      more      like your little sister      stop

arguing just to argue           I am not

 

less. My skin my hair is growing

into a nightshade kinkier      forgive me

 

I can’t seem to stop        tripping over the wrongs about me       

her work is scattering me       I offer to not interrupt her life again

 

show her how I have been

sewing my mother’s hands flat

into my shoulder blades     into witness

 

my soap-worn back    my auntie scrubbing until I am still brown

is merely the headwater

an unspooling        river of reasons to be unkind

 

to darkness       I want my body to be amber silent

it is difficult to approach this hardening

 

I am so-quiet-most-kids-think-I-am-mute

maybe I am       just the shame       that comes with any fear

my matchbox car tongue races dizzy 

I can’t be hurtin’       nobody unless I tire

of being        in the too wrong way too much of the time