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.
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.
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.
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.