Monday, March 19, 2018

The Genetics of Leaving

By Shauna Barbosa

Inside, this vessel feels like the 1996 spelling bee when I forgot
u in language. Vovo left Fogo
to Praia. Now she has two sons named José.
Islands apart, I already jelly fished every memory that’s stuck
inside. Saltwater
nostalgia stung, rinsed right up off me.

Vovo left and came back, not recognizing my thirteen-year-old
aunt, her new haircut
resembling the first José. I contracted. I expanded.
I pushed temporary waters behind me. I already forgot
I’ve got two versions of my climb. The one I swam and, I—

I only climbed this mountain to take a picture at the top,
bell-shaped bodies all forgotten.

All this bad luck because I split a pole.
If I could open my mouth
I’d ask my grandmother why
she took so long to return to her first set of fish.
I’d ask if she’s aware she has two sons named the same.
She’s got two versions of herself,
one in the land of a free, haircut, two, me.

As soon as you start to love a city,
a thick-bodied flight attendant touches your shoulder
walking down the aisle. Thought that was affection.

I took care of that part of myself in a complicated way.
There’s only one temperature that’s good enough for a mother
to bring back the u of this vessel that is no longer the you
around my neck.

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