Portrait


At five, I was from the open circle
of a pine tree where I used to dig the sharp
moon of my fingernail into the soft
flesh of nascent buds, searching
for something as I peeled their petals
slowly up. I would dust the soft pollen
left on my fingers to trace delicate
patterns on the cracked cement
of the sidewalk running by our house

because, I remember that I am
from wealth of spirit if not of money,
a half-opened mystery of sacrifices
and gourmet equaling ice cream for dinner,
warm socks and a Barbie for Christmas.

I am born of language, of a mother's storytelling
who was rarely her own and seldom in her own language.
These words writhe in my veins and circle
my cerebellum. I am free only in this cage.

For I am a portrait of what I can see only
in profile -- of a mother, of a grandmother,
of a father I've hardly scratched the surface of --
and the trembling image in the blind spot of my retina
is that of the bud still waiting for something
to be discovered.

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