Listen to Michalle Gould reading these poems here and here.
I. When I Was Big
I was the dune in the Mexican desert a pilot mistook
for a replica of the Pyramids, the wind brushing ripples
across my surface, as if I were not sand but water.
I was the lake birthed by the intercourse of five rivers.
A forgotten king named me the palm and these rivers
the fingers of god. An outstretched hand of water.
I was the plane brought up from the sea, bearing no evidence
of human remains. Two days later, a fisherman pried a glass eye
from an oyster. Blue, like water. I was the Mississippi,
when I burst my banks. The clouds mistook the roofs
of submerged houses for barges floating on the river. A pilot
took the clouds for lily pads. The sky for water.
I was a watercolor of lilies painted by a retired fisherman
in New Mexico. One day someone asked him, who is like god?
His only answer was water.
II. When I Was Strange
What is this place? Where are my mops, my mice,
my sisters, those big-footed women? This bed
is too soft for my bad back. When the man
claiming to be a prince made his entrance,
I would rather have been elsewhere. His ear,
almost muscular in its thickness, contracted
abruptly into a cavern, resembling the knothole I saw once
in a tree neighboring my mother’s grave.
Where is your wand now that I actually need you
to save me? What will he think of my rags,
my pumpkin, my bare and dirty legs? I have stayed
too long in a place I never wanted to visit.
Where is that door, a window, here is that closet
I was told never to open. Whose are these slippers!
Six pairs of discarded glass slippers, exactly like mine?
But still wearing their bloody feet.