Palettal Prose: How to Be a Good Ancestor

be still. listen.

slip though the needle eye of silence.

leave behind your preference for red wine, your talent for word games

your grandfather’s watch–your hair, your skin, your teeth

enter naked as bones

ask the furred, the feathered, the finned

how to ford a river, now to scale the rock cliff

how to spin your flax to gold

feel the floor beneath your absence,

the wide planks of the old house

that were once proud firs breathing out cool fog,

touch the skies those trees held up.

stand before gods that are strangers

whose language is harsh in your ears, and do not flinch

trust kindness when you find it–

the flesh surrounding the apple’s seed

the apple carried in the beak of a raven

become the raven’s fingered wings flying through time

sifting wounds and wonders

become your one unbearable wound

cry tears that freeze in six pointed geometry

then fall and fall, until they smooth the mountains

be the unmistakable snowflake

that launches the avalanche and buries the village

become the thaw

uncover a memory of wholeness

drip that sweet clean water

on the growing vine of generations

the vine that will someday flower with the twin stars

of a baby’s open hands

a baby who will cry out to you

from a dense and troubled darkness

and you will answer:

heal child, the way is in your blood.

~Sophia Rosenburg, We’Moon

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