10 Wounds in Which I Was Born

by L Favicchia


I was only a green pearl. I once looked 
like a single drop of water, a perfect bead
clinging to a pale leaf.


I should have been 
deposited onto her wings
where I would grow and be born
on her vast, broad back 

but my mother, torn
by my spiny egg casing, 
her inner self churned 
and knotted, instead forced me
out of a wound.


My father tried to digest me
when my mother handed me to him

through puckered gills—an exchange
near fatal, my fine, see-through egg

almost lost 
to the fleshy and open-mouthed sea.


Together in one pod I was pressed
against myself, translucent 
hands clinging. We stayed there

stomach to stomach, 
feeling our lungs as we breathed;
we knew we were both alive.


Many thousands of me were laid
along the long, thin stem
of a daylily, the only beautiful thing about us
then, though I could have been lost
to a small puff of breath. 


I should not have let my father
carry me in his mouth
and slip me back down 
his violent throat.


I would like to thank my mother
for spending three to five years searching
for the perfect alcove to suspend me,
sprawled like white bundles of grapes
tacked to the ceiling, not knowing
that she too was becoming more
and more pale as she slept below,
tentacled body holding me
as long as it could. 


I thought I was born blue
the way my hands looked
pressed against the inside
of a blue-glass jar.
I rolled myself around
to other nests knocking
and knocking too quiet to hear
and not hard enough to shatter.


I could have just floated in the ocean 
of my own salty womb forever
—I was always meant to be

worn around the mermaid’s neck, 
but instead, I washed up on shore
where I could no longer suspend

my body in heavy air,
where my translucence reflected only
the sand, an abandoned and hard honeycomb,
and children were afraid of me.


I was born a spiral,
never straightforward, never
the perfect square molar
hidden inside a polished mouth. 

All the time I spent in a body
I spent putting myself together
one strand of saliva at a time.

I was my own shell
and I took many years to make.