My childhood was round and happy
filled with small flowers on trees,
jacaranda-purples and bonnet-blues --
colors with scent in them.
My legs carried me from hands to arms
that folded around me, held on, caressed
away cares; familiar blessings on my forehead
were moist thoughts; I was swaddled in kisses.
This was before adults became different,
when everyone who was someone
taller or thinner was still an extension of me --
an undifferentiated rattle in a palm;
or hands cupping my face like shells.
A self outside myself that spun me
round in circles until I was flying,
feet out, then caught, safe and warm.
This was before I grew to know maps
and borders, compass-point perspectives, miles
measured by inches; before frontiers
divided eagle from quetzal, snake
from serpent. Iíve outgrown a childhood
without dreams and left comfort to stand alone
in a riverbed where unscented lilies
tickle my shins like nettles. I wade through,
over weeds and past the rotting driftwood
in my path. Hollow shells crack like plaster.
I move toward an opposite shore,
uninhabited desert, unknown.
Arms poised, elbows out, my hands check
the balanced bundle tied with rope
thatís rasping burns into my back. Legs sift
heavy water; feet filthy with silt pull free slowly.
This is an isolated passage. No one
set me on my feet and waits, hands out,
shaking and watching the first walk.
No one stands south of me, urging.
No one waits north, arms out,
stretching forward for my arrival.
No movie reels in my slow progress.
Only memories of my movements record this route.
Hold me like you used to.
© Christina Salme Ruiz