My mother taught me to count this land in how it’s been lived.
Low-hanging mango, jasmine-inked asphalt, each drop of monsoon.
Peel it like fruit till your palm fits the skeletons it has consumed,
not the flesh it has sowed. Let it be a face you will never inherit. Softened
playing cards and dampened cotton we’ve scorched dry. Burn
this summer in littered cigarettes and tea-stained styrofoam. Swallow it
whole and it will consume you. And the frayed threads holding your
marigold body together. Bear this land your existence, but not your soul.
Let it sit in beverage cans buried in bedrock. In tongues
held in recognition. Find it not in the smoke, but in its puddling gutters.
My mother taught me to count this land in how it’s tendered.
She pressed a soft kiss to my ear. And let it drown.