the milkweed pods
in their silent and gauzy way, will open.
Their fan of seeds so like feathers, you will bring them to your lips to know them.
I am not sure you are not another woman’s daughter
by the floss of your white hair coming in,
except that I have a tenderness for the milkweed’s cupped shell
whose dried fibrous roots can be woven into a sturdy and primitive rope.
Daughter, where we come from
it skips a generation
Like a flat stone across water.
I have seen the way you look to the corners of the ceiling and laugh.
Daughter, the antecedent is that the stone rises off water.
Daughter, of the family line
I can offer you this:
a stock of bargemen, half smiles, a high threshold for pain.
Do not doubt that you will be stubborn. You will bump your head
first against my tail bone and I will reach out for you.
That you may be my twin will make some of our line nervous.
We will move, teathered, as all mass moves
in correlation and container.
Take hold of my knee. Pull yourself up.
Daughter, the butchers
will slaughter a flock of old laying hens and will collect
from their guts, a bowl of yellow yolks, unshelled and clustered like grapes.
They will show us breastplate and heart and will carve out for you
the wishbone. It acts like a spring in the sternum of the bird
expanding and snapping taught with the span of wings in flight.
We will dry it on the windowsill and you will wrestle it and pitch
the bone to snap in your favor. The globes of yolk will surface
each day from the bowels of our chickens, as apt as fulcrums
in their intention. Daughter, the butchers are nuns.
Daughter, you will sleep
on a sheepskin in the corner of our room.
That the yearling ram gave his life for you should be of no concern,
hough I will barter many times again in your presence.
Lambs must present themselves nose atop hooves
to leap from the womb without catching. The ewe in labor circles
her pen into a nest. We come to know another through sound
or patterns of behavior. You will lie down in the evenings,
the passage to sleep hard fought, but for the feel of fleece
like the rustle of hay and the fat of the wool greasing your cheek.
Aison D. Moncrief Bromage has poems in Barrow Street, Denver Quarterly, Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is a writing tutor at Yale and lives in Stony Creek, Connecticut, with her husband and children. contact