Ancestors

By Natalie Linh Bolderston

we scout the spaces in your blood     peel out of fever dreams     breathe between shoulders

 

we erupt from the ends of your cigarettes     we pass through your offerings     bleed heat from soup     unravel dumplings     rattle ginger candies     we knock over vases of pink roses     they’re bad luck     and scent everywhere with lemongrass

 

we hold open your hearts when you pray     pack each chamber with medicinal bark and lotus petals     we arrange our effigies from broken toothpicks     remind you of the graves you cannot tend

 

we angle light like dragonfly wings     and river water     we scatter dry leaves like brittle histories     the kind you can never outscream

 

our names are chilli seeds     lodged in your teeth     our bodies burned but sent us back

 

today you can almost hear us     though we traded our tongues     for the ability to reach you     every word we try combusts     and spits from your wok

 

at night we pool     into your children’s palms     we know there is always     something more      to give

© 2019 harana poetry

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