Alabaster jewel, split open
of bleached enamel, scrubbed countertops
a seed, really
pried from your mother’s corpse
you stuck to her side like sand under a fingernail
growing inside, the precious nacre baby
your body curves: a glass moon
dipped in milk, shining
bright, bright against the waves
you are the prize won.
Your cat is dead
but it could just as easily be
who is somewhere in you
woven in the cellular system
of your body
you can feel it
the space between atoms
where secrets quicken and congeal
another world unfolds.
You heard yourself speaking
for fear of silence
and felt the echo of her voice, as if she
had spoken in you
as if you weren’t quite you, but were
growing and continuing
as if her expressions
were flowing and emanating from your face.
if that’s what happens to older people
when they die contented
that they feel they somehow
transcended the wall of flesh
that their fire and protoplasm
and pulse have leapt
over bounds and will live on
in those dancing, rushing off to new days.
And you remember Alejandra for her name
it was the same as a neighborhood street
or brand of water—something like that
and she once said the word
which stuck in your mind
as her identifiable language
the ring of sophistication and commercials.
But you also remember, absurdly now
how her little brother drowned
on the cold lakes
while walking on ice
you didn’t know how to react
to her white, drawn face when
you saw her back at school.
You wanted to say nice things
how sorry you were
and then you felt a sudden hardening
a strange anger at her
for her weakness
which intensified yours
so you said nothing and avoided her eyes.
Alexander Kwonji Rosenberg studied English and creative writing at Cornell University. After working and living in Uganda and Tanzania, he finally knows how to make a fire and sit still. He has enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Oxford. His work has appeared in Ink Magazine, The Trellis, and The Prose-Poem Project. A forthcoming collection of essays, The Lives of the Unknown, will be published by Mkuki na Nyota in 2013.