P—W  V° 03:01

Where I’m From 

by Mia Nakaji Monnier

My mother calls me often on her commute.
Miia, she cries like a bird,
a falling tone.

My mother cries like a bird and I imagine her
in her little white car tracing the coast,
north in the mornings, south at night.
Past the bakery where my youngest brother worked after college
past the long-gone ice cream shop where I worked in college
past the surf we each walked separately when we were restless
from the cliffs to the pier,
crushing kelp bladders beneath our heels
injuring softly, pressing into salt.
Past the paved route we followed as a family,
my brothers taking turns pushing our mother from behind
like the engine of a train.

My mother says, Time rules all.
She says, People try to live too long these days.
She says, When I’m dead, I’m dead.
As in, it’s pointless to remember, to ask questions, to memorialize.
Nothing makes me want to fight time like my mother.
Her bird cry, the soft, thin skin of her hands,
which hold mine again now that I’m grown,
now that I’m about to be a mother.
My mother touches my belly and I say,
Sawaranakutemo iiyo
You don’t have to touch it
but later that day she does anyway
hesitantly, apologetically.
It’s okay, I say and reach out to touch hers.
It’s meant to be a joke but it almost breaks my heart,
touching my mother’s belly.
That’s where you’re from, my husband says
when I tell him later.

Where I’m from fog hangs low to the earth,
a watery nest, curved like a bowl, both rugged and soft.
Where I’m from time moves slow as rock,
a shifting of plates, a skittering of clay down cliff to the sea.

2023 © M.Monnier