Having Been Born

Hoa Nguyen

Selina means ‘moon’  born in the place
of standing stones    moors
moon-named   Saturn-ruled
              January 1820

      but what of being
born fatherless?   not Selina
but her Thomas   illegitimate
my birthday twin   we illegitimate
previously written-over knowledge
            brings me to holy sites
dipped well buckets

      Born already sinful they would say
            say our mothers became
      in ruins?

      Thomas and I laugh
                     clever to live
                       Aquarius stars as our sun
      and that one      
pinned to lion’s tail

recorded there
            the ledger on holy ground
      Selina served partnerless
in workers’ prison
            as archive records show
Thomas did too
                  and what did the child do
as she worked debt
      imprisoned        acts determined
by court       her sin report        her son Thomas
twinned with me also born
                         to a brave mother alone

      I change weather with words
what we have said as ongoingness
    hands        drummed
    small shells rattle our cumulous dream
      drums a dream
of unwinding strands and repair
   trace what the healer saw as a leaking
womb site
   site of birthing to unspool
books of blood       to open close
open close

   I come equipped to heal
am here calling
unwind DNA strands
linked to time-trace    unfold as fabric
   in process-time
experienced as ‘flowing’
swirl in arms to meet as liquid

   we act futurity
as fruit seed    the story
spirals into seed the seed
with us a spiral story we carry
   being imprinted
                    whorled seashell
a beaded partition of time
swales of thee released
melded or melting

  candles collapse

Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry, including Red Juice: Poems, 1998–2008, Violet Energy Ingots, and A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure.
Originally published:
June 1, 2022


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