You gave birth to six children, three of them still living— One stillborn (a girl without breath), one boy, gone shortly after birth.
The other, your daughter, gone in her twenties,
a thing inside her skull with jaws— First she was quiet, then she was still— I wonder what the sins of your father must have been like for three of your children to be taken:
Your genealogy is of wolves, your father and his father, men with a hunger and sharp
Had you stretched out your hands, lifted up your face, would this all have passed as waters gone by?
If I could pass your heart between us, perhaps I could feel your sense of loss, those who entered your bloodstream and remain there even
now. I don’t have to have the blood to feel the same yearning--
To my sister’s birthmother—
You say you live in Roanoke now— I don’t know where that is, but I understand why you couldn’t go on living in the old house after—
You tell me about your new grandchild (a girl this time) and I feel a sense of kinship to her (although we share no blood), this child I will see many photos of but
will probably never meet—
You say your ex-husband (the father of your daughters) has moved to California, and I wonder if the distance will help him forget, help him move on,
minimize the guilt—
I know we have nothing in common now, both of us widows of the thing that brought us together— What I want to say, but won’t:
One day, when I’m different and grown
and made entirely of reassembled cells, I’ll go searching for her, but I won’t find her among the small mammals and the topiaries. There will be no garden bench to sit on,
no seed or tallgrass surrounding a cemetery stone.
Even still, I won’t forget the color of her bones— I’ll remember that I don’t have to see chrysanthemums and orchids to know the papering of words and that I (we) have too many things to love about January to let the cold come between us—
Kristin LaFollette is a writer, artist, and photographer and is the author of the chapbook, Body Parts (GFT Press, 2018). She is a professor at the University of Southern Indiana and serves as the Art Editor at Mud Season Review. You can visit her on Twitter at @k_lafollette03 or on her website at kristinlafollette.com.