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Of All the Metaphors for Being a Daughter

I’m drawn to the strangler fig’s

cosmic swirl of execution, aerial

trapeze artist mining down through

the body. And who am I to pretend

I have any stake in that death:

dissolving nutrients, nonconsensual

sacrifice, melted trunk a banquet

while the whole canopy looks on,

quiet in growth. The silent dissolution,

and after, nothing but soil made richer

for the disappearance. Reader,

which one daughter, which one

mother? Repeat after the YouTube

subtitles: hemi-parasitic, which is to say

split / reliance, which is to say keystone

species, more abundance than murder,

at the end of the day. All I know

is that forest must be rammed

with oxygen and rot. And look,

a few burgeoning fruit that will soon

house another death, only this one

volunteered: a mother digs herself

into that sweet, wet heart, all thrash

and surrender, wings stripped

from the muscular body. And so

two lives—no, a whole chattering

universe, stuffed with sugar.

These days, everyone’s dying

for a little more life. Yes, my kingdom—

though I could see her coming for miles,

long before I knew my body

had an endpoint, long before

I knew that finish line was a thin

tuft of seed, glossy, slick with bird shit,

anchoring herself into me,

where soon she’d wrap her legs,

fingers, every inch around

this one long, lichened self.


On Having a Daughter

Instead of any child, I’ll carry thistle

bulbs, purple and rubbing against—

or the seed of a banyan, quiet, sturdy,