Anna Gates Ha

Shift to Look at You

You, willful little creature, trying to pull
me, time super-fan, into now.
Watch her resist arrest.
Watch her come for me
in the middle of the night,
your breath a slippery thing,
like a newborn’s, again.
She is a drum.
She is fear dressed up like an idea for a short story.
Even an earwig knows how to protect her eggs.
Do you remember the broken chrysalis
pulled from the dirt beneath the bay tree?
Tell her that form is a temporal expression.
Watch her create an ego
out of the air on your tongue.
Watch her come out of winter with a machete,
dripping,
aching
to annihilate presence.
See my reflection in the black phone,
press the button, and your face appears.
Feel my eyes try to hold onto their selves.
Feel them shift to look at you.

Hatchery: A Birth Story

Ladder—meant to be the river—
like where your mother swam.
It is nothing like the river,
but there are no bears here
(only your weakness).
Bears, when salmon are plenty,
eat just the fattiest parts.
Your womb.
Heads and fins left
rotting for the trees.

Your scales disintegrate
like wings in water.
Life inside is heavy.
So jump,
as if you had a choice,
as if there were no dam.

No need to do it all yourself:
sharp little knives, latex.
Don’t worry.
Your children will be provided for:
concrete bassinets,
toddlers with fish food
crammed into their fists.

But are we meant to learn
something from the bears?
Where will my carcass sink
if not into the roots of a redwood?

Your children will know the ocean.
They will climb the ladder,
as you.

Author Portrait

Anna Gates Ha earned her MFA in fiction at Saint Mary’s College of California. Her short fiction, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared in Harpur Palate, and her poetry is forthcoming in Literary Mama.

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