Personal Mythologies | Michele Leavitt

I. Birth

Under the flowerless jacaranda tree,

my mother eats me

and throws my bones over the hedge.

Surrounded by clipped hibiscus,

she had made love with her father,

and the stories they needed

spilled beneath them. When rain freshens

parched dirt, old roots swell

with memories, and anything is possible –

me, a green slip of a girl,

made by a monster, in the image of a god.


II. Becoming

More rain. My bones roll in the mud,

collecting twigs for tendons,

fallen blossoms for organs. The muck forms

into flesh. Under the hibiscus,

now an unruly thicket, my pebble eyes roll

toward the spiders – they teach

me how to weave, repeat, design,

how to scare my mother.


III. Lovers

The jacaranda shows me what she sees:

distant water rippling bright

and dark under winds, so like

my thicket’s shivering canopies,

I cannot be ashamed. Each lover

left a petal in my mouth.

In the ringing of jasmine blossoms,

I took many in my mouths, even my father,

who was my mother’s father, his temper

shorter than anyone’s,

living as if god had looked away from him

since the time of his own wet birth.


IV. Marriage

The pair of pomegranate trees tells me

marriage is a walled garden

with two doors, and lovers clamor

at the entrance, but once inside,

they push against the exit, second-guessing.

Still, I wait outside with you,

who are like and unlike me. You are the statue

I will train my honeysuckle over. Cleave me open.

I will cleave to you. Make me impregnable.

I will secrete your children like silk, or like shames.

I will tell them stories of rains

falling thousands of feet down to earth.

Again and again, the rains fall like children

who will never get hurt.

Michele Leavitt is a high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney writing poems and essays from North Florida. Recent work appears, or is imminently forthcoming, in Guernica, North American Review, Gravel, and Mezzo Cammin.

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