by Elizabeth Oxley
My ancestors lie beneath the earth
like floorboards holding up the living.
I hope never to lie so straight. I've spent
my whole life learning how to bend.
I once wore tight yellow braids
and dresses with smocking. I learned
to read silverware like tea leaves:
small forks meant salad, three tines meant cake.
I kept my spine pointed north and made
perfection my prison. I am trying hard now
to come undone, to find the wild in being
a woman. The sun rises with no apology.
Coyotes sing at twilight because there
is no shame in having shadows. Soon,
it will rain. I'll reach down for my ancestors,
release them from corset and glove.
I'll tell them what I see: lightning that strikes
like a jagged yellow braid, going where it wants.