How It Is Now, How It Was
as a boy panning the stream behind my house for the minnows that drilled down the current in schools. They moved as one— muscular, thick, sequined— so if I dipped down, I could nearly scoop handfuls of their bounty up to my chest like some dream of my hunter ancestors lost in the currents of my DNA. I imagine desire like this. But whenever I stabbed my hand into that glacier water, they dispersed at once, every one. And this entertained me until the day I did catch one, held its slim, jeweled body inside my fist. The thrill of its tail flickering inside my palm like candlelight, like a snake’s forked tongue until I unclenched my hand to let it go and saw it was already gone.
As souls in heaven, before inhabiting their bodies, children choose their mothers. I heard my mother say this exactly twice. Once after we had fought in the car to cut the silent ride home. And once on the phone with my aunt after my cousin shot himself through the mouth. I was born after a summer solstice under a new moon. Rain thickened the green outside my window. Above my crib two portraits of angels hung.