Prelapsarian

My closest ancestor is a girl called me.
Right is a place where she once got lost. It held
a sparkling pool, a pair of doves, a tall fringed palm
with a long shadow, a gate that locked from the inside.

Under the tree was a way out, but one couldn’t
know for sure without first digging up the roots.
Who taught me that? The mothers. They said,
“These roots are deep, but not endless.” I began

untangling, unearthed the rhizomes one by one
in the sunshine. They stank. The damp in that region
had fed them well. Lightning struck the tree one night.

Its fronds withered. One day I touched the gate and it opened.
Outside was my first mother, a trailer hitched to her truck,
her tank full, her face a quiet sword that burned.

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