January, brightly. You strip the scene of its objects:
windowsill, salt shaker, handkerchief.
Where do I go from here? the cast-off child asks,
and you are that discarded daughter.
Heart-beat, heart-beat, husk.
If you commit something to memory, it will be imperfect.
Like you, I have many witnesses to my decay.
Me and all the rest of me—
orange-haired girls waving goodbye to their childhoods—
we curl up between the ridges of a shell.
In the ear of the whelk, every sound sounds far away.
You took the staircase leading into the sea.
Then you returned, but part of your self was missing.
If memory, then flaw.
Let me say it, again: there are many who have stood by
and watched my dilapidation. Like the young thing
who chopped off her own braid,
the question is, What will you refuse to part with?
In the next ocean, you’ll be many brilliant spells
flung from the end of a wizard’s wand,
the sea foam transfigured into thinning air.