The First Song of Barefoot and Sticky-cheeked


The desert fell out behind the branches, our daughter moving in the disappearing light, like something the scorpions would flock in awe towards.
– Anis Mojgani

We were so full of flowers then.
They bloomed from our hands
and sprung from our mouths
and orchestras of bees would swarm
around us all day in the spring.

We spent the first hours of every morning
cutting stems, cradling them
like something wounded and quivering,
carried into the house in the mouth of a cat,
our thin fingers pushing them down
through the cracks in the floor boards
to sink their spines into the earth we grew from.

Our children were called Barefoot and Sticky-cheeked.
Two blue ribbons tying our split sides together.
Two halves of one golden peach.
The smooth muscle of oceans in waiting.
Hands holding firecrackers to hurl at the quiet
and songs to gentle giants.

In the evening the wings of birds
would slow ghost their way
in through the windows,
flap themselves into the brahmanic hands
of a mango tree,
its bell tower trunk thrown up through the floor,
shoulders hunched and canopy pressing up
and out through the ceiling,
casting branches like psalms
across the hall and out the windows
to tickle the belly of a moon
held in the mouth of the sky like a quiet prayer
to the smalls gods
we had long ago become.

she ran through a shallow river that flowed
through the hall from a glacier we’d trapped
weeping in the attic,
a whale of ice we harpooned
and dragged home last winter
for an endless supply
of clear blue light
and long memory.

She ran arms out,
feet throwing ice behind
like wedding confetti.

She ran so fast.

she was in the mango tree.
A chorus of bees humming their songs around her,
knuckling herself to the trunk,
hands throwing sucked clean seeds at the slow birds
perched in its branches.

The birds flapped grey and thin winged
and leapt over themselves,
bundles of school house stern and bad suits
and Sticky-cheeked just laughed at them,
laughed like an ocean had opened inside her,
like the whole world was a preschool dance put on
to see her clap those tiny hands and smile.

She had climbed so high.

When we opened our mouths
to call her down
we found
we couldn’t make a sound.

Above us
she spread her arms like wings,
like an orchid opening,
like the morning’s first golden hours.

And when she jumped
feathers unfurling,
our throats exploded
with the most beautiful
singing flowers.

5 thoughts on “The First Song of Barefoot and Sticky-cheeked”

    1. Thanks again Kat! I want to develop at least one more piece from this one so any direct feedback on what you liked would be appreciated

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