Alchemy

Kristin LaFollette

When I think of you, I think of
glass jars, wide-mouthed and frail,
full of warm water and salt—

Your name is like ash and tinder
and I only see you now because
of the young girl, your body warm
where her body had been, newborn,

                                                      the newness of your own labor,
                                                      the alchemy of it all—

When I met you, you sat with your
wrists on the table so I could know
your platelets, know there weren’t
enough of them to make you                well—

I waited for you to tell me about your
blood, waited to be asked for prayers
so that I could touch your shoulder
lightly, hope that my words would
be enough to reassemble you,

to make me matter to you—

I don’t know how else I can say this:
                                                      I only wanted you to love me—
                                                      I had no sisters, only boys that were moths
                                                                        I couldn’t quite catch in my closed hands—
I only know how to say this:
I love you now because of the warmth
of your child, her atria hot just beneath
her sternum, her quick breath a sign of lungs
                                                                                             like wet apricots—

If we
take her roots and
churn them together
and absorb the dust of her,
perhaps then I might begin to know you—

Kristin LaFollette (she/her) is a writer, artist, and photographer and is the author of the chapbook, Body Parts (GFT Press, 2018). She is a professor at the University of Southern Indiana and serves as the Art Editor at Mud Season Review. You can visit her on Twitter at @k_lafollette03 or on her website at kristinlafollette.com

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