Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joanne Merriam


I tell her about an article I read about hiccups,
how they may be an evolutionary remnant --
the same muscular contraction some frogs have
when they switch from gills to lungs --
and she rolls her eyes, very Southern, unconvinced
and says, "Oh, so now we're descended from fish?"

Below our skin, rivers, yes, fluid existence.
My mother's voice embedded in mine.
(When Mom calls that night, long distance,
we talk about that trick that makes me feel sick
every time I eat jello lime like the hospital's,
that makes her smell rain when
thinking of prom: this insistence on memory.
Who can guess what will save us?)

I turn from her cubicle to the window.
Behind my ghost in the glass it's starting to rain.
If you go back long enough,
I want to say,
we're all related, and isn't it wonderful,
what it can teach us about persistence.

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