For Eleza
The succulents you plucked
for me from the abundance
of your yard and nested
in a blue butter cookie tin
with shells and stones
for me to take home
across time zones
coast to coast not only
rooted in their indoor
plot of terracotta here
in Baltimore but thrive
so wildly I have to cut
them back and even then
new white pink roots
and fat green baby fingers
pull themselves up and out
to propagate from the now
calloused ends of once
raw leaves and stems

which is to say thank you.
I have tried to let this growth
exist a welcome fact
without forcing it back
at you as figure of
though you thrive riven too.
I have watched you dive
through waves to disappear
and then emerge out past
the breaking with a smile
and your hair in tangles
and even this image
of your actual figure need
not stand as figure either
just exist in fact of memory
as do the grains of sand
and bonfire smoke
still clinging to my clothes
when I unpack.

I have smoothed plaster
onto your pregnant belly
and watched as it set to hold
your shape the week before
your first daughter entered
the world through you.
You know all this already
but a litany of remember when
is the closest that I can approach
to prayer or spell as if words
could conjure your mother
or husband alive again with you.
We say lifelong to mean always
but both shift like shorelines.
I used to believe in believing
and thought that if life hurt
it meant to trust that it was
working like rubbing alcohol
and all strong medicine.

That was before I knew you
or anything. In the past’s present
you are making a mobile
of driftwood. Long after
your daughters look through
its slow turning the shadows
it throws still make sense
of a relationship with light.
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