I was born with a heart full of blood and stars.
I was born brave.
When they laid me on my mother’s chest
I stared into her eyes as if I’d known her always.
When she gave me to my father to hold,
he wouldn’t put me down. Just rocked me
through that hospital night of beeping
and chaos and latex gloves snapped
onto capable hands, staring at me
like I was something confusingly
My grandpa first met me after my mother and I
trudged off an airplane into the bustle
and when he got a good look at me,
smiling hugely, he said
my god, she’s otherworldly.
No one can compare an infant to
but I was round and rosy and
January and furrowed-brow and
decisive, determined, dauntless,
and I think I kind of believe him.
I was what they call a late-bloomer,
a warrior of the quiet kind
who picked tiny strawberries from the neighbor’s
yard and ate them on the driveway
amid battalions of rainbow chalk, who
wore her fairy wings and flower chains
long after other kids gave up make-believe
for video games.
I was an arrow of a child,
headed perpetually for rawness of spirit
and purity of truth,
and when circle after circle of friends
closed on me
my heart ran salty scarlet rivers through my chest.
When they said I was too sensitive, too odd,
I bawled into my mattress
with a richness of despair and yes,
I wished I was not who I was.
I was different, and that scared the other children.
I was kind.
So I grew up. Slowly.
My drawers filled with poems I fought to birth,
waiting in the darkness for them like an animal.
I did stupid things and I did lovely things. My bones
ached me to a new height.
They say the day you get your period is the day you
become a woman, but the day I became a woman
was in the middle of August on the living room couch
when my father stopped loving my mother and started
loving someone else.
I did bleed, but it wasn’t the right kind.
It wasn’t fertility or practicing walking around
with a pad between my legs, awkward,
awed at myself. It wasn’t that kind at all.
There are many ways to grow up. I grew up
because of my dad whistling on mornings after
*** with my best friends’ mom,
because of him showering
to go out and my mother retching into the bathroom sink,
because of the mutilation of family.
But I didn’t grow up dim.
I grew up steely and flagrant and voluminous,
unfolding in all directions
because I, runner in the woods,
I, last one picked for the team,
I, exhalation of light,
am not stem, nor stamen,
I am the blossom.
Blood and stars.