Today I pulled
my grandmother’s body
from the mouth of the river,
unpeeled milkflowers and seawater
from her hair, and knelt over her
the way we bend over our own reflections:
Nainai, ni ren shi wo me?*
still, never answer, no answer:
the answer was the smoke filling her chest,
the hymn half-sung on her lips,
the wisterias like exit wounds
through her back.
She could have been anyone’s grandmother,
but I collected her ribs anyways,
and in her calcified eyes,
my tongue swallowed the rain.
Tomorrow I will return with two birds and my neutered tongue,
offer them to the river spirits, ask for a bled body back.
They will take me, bathe me in my jar of bones—
I will wear them as if they are mine, to drape myself
with ghosts, to touch an unlearned year,
shedding my skin like a water lily.
*Grandmother, do you remember me?