This is your tumpline
to help you with your burden
when you gather kindling
—Rosa Xulemhó, “A Midwife Addresses the Newborn”
Some fairy godmother or furious hag,
I don’t know which, closed in my baby hands
a slice of glass, a wind puffed in a bag,
and curly thread, crimson, snipped at both ends.
That’s why I have grown tall and self-regarding
peering into cracked mirrors, on my toes.
That’s why I find a cozy home retarding
when the east wind, the naughty east wind, blows.
And when my blood has stopped its pleasant twitch
and suffers the deep pangs of love at last,
why I don’t know if I’d return the witch
the convoluted bondage of the past.