Passing It On

by Sara Moore Wagner

Sara Moore Wagner

I want to make a child from the one I have lost,
to make the base of her noble by some means, alchemy
the tin girl my father built from junkyard scraps: golden
now. I’ll pull her out of my pocket, hunched
in the woods over a patch of clover, show her
to my daughter, say “aren’t I so lucky
to keep carrying this with me.” Look what I have done
for myself, how far I have come. Bury her deep
in the creeping water primrose roots that strangle
the section of the pond where we search for snails
one after the other, turning them upside down to find a body:
it’s funny what’s lost, how we pull up fistfuls of empty
spiral shells, how I put the girl I have made deep
into the webbing of organic matter, say live or at least
absorb the heat from the August sky, the tilt of the moon,
Neptune to blue your eyes. It never has worked that way.
Instead, the metal of the girl I let die leaches into the water
supply. We drink it and swell with the grief of being born
like this, swell our fingers, our kidneys and toes, grow
so large the world won’t miss us. How we burst open,
vermillion the bank of this quiet space we’ve tried to sacred,
how we are just one little color now: red. Better for it.

Last updated September 19, 2022