Register Friday | March 31 | 2023

Staying Power

Imagine the world whittled down to a house
where a man crawls through bolted doors

searching for the safest room to plant his feet.
Tailing his tracks, a woman’s sweat blooms

the diameter of an ocean. Each offspring
knows its mother’s damp temple the way

she knows her country is wherever she finds
a window to the sun. One brief sky she slept under

before a new language soldiered terrain
into fever. Death-bringing tongues. Your family

human made beast at every threshold
made human by sheer mercy of stamps

wetting a pocketbook—testament to each
place they were seen alive. Your parents shape-shifters

who braved crosshairs for the future
they saw through them. How

they stood still so close to slaughter if only
to see you born. You were born

with a belly button in case you forgot
every entry is a wound.

The clutch of afterbirth promised ...

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