I am a murky expanse. You are watery and fetal. I can taste you, Jellyfish. There is the iron smell-taste in my nose, clotted damp earth in my mouth. My body may be at sea, but my mind is a vessel. And you, over time, no longer boneless: the tiniest known chordate with vestigial tail. You, your tiny heart, fluttering like a trapped bird’s. One moment within me, so thoroughly known. The next, a guppy in a storm drain.

Not aquatic, avian. A flash against a white sky, like the horse galloping in the cemetery snow. Assisted by feathers, you have evolved. Swallow, you are now an ethereal creature, airborne and air-bound. The willows wave their long arms at you. You are a word from the source, a messenger. Here on the earth, I feel your shadow graze my skin as you dip low and pass.

There is something about that black crow sleeping in the tree. It reminds me of you, the way it curves its small head around and nestles into its own warm neck. What is it, again, that birds and unborn babies dream of? Seasons. Small round sounds. The breathy whispers of the wind. Wingspans. Seeds on a breeze.

Today there is a kite bouncing on top of a circling wind. Its skeleton is a cross of sticks. Rice paper skin and sky blue ribbon. Its life cord is a ball of string held in a small boy’s curled fist. Its face and body lack definition: a rounded out diamond with large painted eyes. (A tethered tadpole looming above the trees). The kite is trying to catch a puffy cumulus cloud. It is strong-willed, tugging and pulling away from the boy, away from the earth. It wants more air, more space as it jaggedly pulls up, away, and snaps out of its owner’s hand. Snaps and lands miles away in a broken tree.

Tree Angel, though unseen you pull on the string, tug at my hand. You will always lead me and leave me.

4. First I learned to think like a fish, then like a bird. Like a vessel, and then an empty vessel. A kite doesn’t need a mother. // But a woman even once filled with commotion has needs. If not life, then a blood symbol. A proper substitute. An idea with a heartbeat.

* originally published by Exhale literary magazine