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Poetry
Firstborn



It’s as if the woman dropped a gold piece
into a jar every night since the night
the girl was born, only to find the jar
filled with small stones. The stones
are smooth; they feel good in her palm.
If she’d been saving one for each day
of the child’s life, she’d be happy
to pour them dry and dusty
into her hands now. But nothing is
what the woman expected. After all
this time on the mountain, the girl
wants to leave. Maybe she’ll lead
the hawk away by its invisible leash
or maybe the bird-shaped shadow
will find another face to darken.
Maybe the boy’s face. Maybe the girl
won’t come back. Who’s to say?
It’s as if the woman whittled the girl’s
tiny likeness from wood, but holding
it later, turning it over in her hands,
sees angles she didn’t cut, the child’s
sweet face still sweet but contorted
in ways the woman didn’t twist it.



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