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Samantha Zimbler

Mother, I want to learn to walk on water
as you once did, all those years ago—
finally letting yourself cry those necessary tears
as you reached the shores of the Free Land.

Mother, there is a girl in here who pulls
the wings off butterflies.
I once tried to take the fragile remnants
and collect them in a jar, hoping I would one day
have enough wingspan to take flight.

Mother, there are men with guns out there;
the ground is no longer safe.

Do you remember when we last saw each other?
I still see the tired silent terror in your eyes.
I still see the thanksgiving in that one lonely tear
running heavy down your face
as they took your child, warm blood still wet
on her thick hair and arms,
and threw her into the back of the police car.

I wanted to make the world safe for you again.
I wanted to show you that your journey
had not been made in vain.
But you did not know how to tell me
that even in the Free Land, there are rules.

Mother, I sit here, carving your name into my skin,
pressing the needle and granite ink just until
I find the tender beating underthing.
The letters of your name, your story—
my story now—are transfused into my blood
through the umbilical pen;
they curve and arch like butterfly wings.

Mother, I believe that, this time,
they will let me fly.


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