One Day I’ll Tell My Daughter Our Origin Story

Sarah Carson

Look, girl, I’ll say, in our country 

we are lucky, 


when the violence opens 

its petals in the spring, 


there are usually sirens, 

a well-constructed building.


Elsewhere, a girl is a soundless instrument,

but here we trumpet, 


cowbell, a window breaking—

even if no one answers, 


we can hear the song of ourselves.

When detectives dragged boys we’ve loved 


from beneath their mothers’ rhododendrons,

girls have been bone, daydream, 


light through a window.

So forgive me 


if there were no men in the room

when doctors removed you from the open wound 


of my midsection—

& I thought it was some kind of miracle,


a burning bush 

or a talking hedgerow,


all those women singing the hour and minute 

like a benediction,


a way to bless us as we ran.

Perhaps it was just happenstance 


when I drove us back to the place 

I’d already left a million times,  


& the only shelter beyond the venison jerky,

the Harley Davidson belt buckles, 


was behind a door marked ladies,

when I balanced the two of us atop a toilet seat,


shared the milk I’d made 

using the same parts of us that made you, 


the same parts of me 

that almost killed us both, 


& another woman sang to us from the overhead speaker:

I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone,


There are plenty of animals, after all,

that betray each other:


wolves, bonobo monkeys, 

the chinstrap penguin.


Of the seven million purple martins in the world, 

not all of them leave their mates in the nest to go rape a neighbor.


Maybe I have spent too much of my life trying to discern 

which of the creatures around me 


may be more wild bird than lap dog—

male & female & the sea in between.


Plenty of good people 

come down the mountain 


confused about 

what sent them there at all.


Headshot | Sarah Carson


SARAH CARSON is the author of several poetry collections including How to Baptize a Child in Flint, Michigan (2022), winner of the 2021 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award from Persea Books. Visit her website to read more of her work.