FORGIVE ME, I'VE FORGOTTEN, BY ERIN RODONI
how to be a daughter. I am all forest now. I surround
my daughter in green and shadow. A kind of absence. She knows me as
throat-hum, a dull ache. Mother, forgive these trees,
this doe-eyed girl. She is lost and I keep losing
my place. Like an infant, like a corpse, I sleep
flat on my back. I am on your lap. I am the meadow grass,
the clearing, the song-charmed beasts. Dreams like moving water
ripple your face above my face. The light subterranean,
as if through skin. The forest thickens with cries
from a baby I cannot find. Perhaps she's the daughter
I once was, the one who grew away from you.
Perhaps she’s the daughter who slips
her braided lies through my hair like soothing fingers.
Hear the echo there, the water moving? It carries the crying
deep inside the past, which is my body,
which is your body, where it quiets
into a fawn, earth-drawn and down-tongued. The lips
of a stream open to her kiss the way the heart does,
gently. Mother, I remember pinching the skin
of your knuckles, amazed at how long it steepled
while my own snapped back. That once-magic
flattened into lack, of collagen, elastin. Love grows from,
then away from, the body. I am in a forest.
A blue-white doe hovers like a butane flame.
In velvet vowels, she hums her warning.
Perhaps it’s the same lullaby
you plaited with the sound of rain. The same
my daughter whisper-sings without knowing why
when she's afraid. I am afraid.
The forest thins like aging skin.
Erin Rodoni is the author of two poetry collections: Body, in Good Light (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017) and A Landscape for Loss (NFSPS Press, 2017), winner of the Stevens Award. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Poetry Northwest, and The Rumpus. She has been the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, a Ninth Letter Literary Award, the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize, and has been included in Best New Poets.